Five questions in the Western Conference:
1. Should the Blackhawks be considered a dynasty if they repeat as Stanley Cup champions?
They won their second title in four seasons last June, and a repeat would present a persuasive argument for dynasty consideration. They stayed pretty much intact and figure to be in the mix again.
2 Who will come out ahead after the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks essentially traded coaches?
John Tortorella's snarling won him few friends in New York and it won't go over big in Vancouver if the Canucks stumble. There might be some rough patches in the first few weeks.
3 Will Brian Burke's truculence and semi-untied-tie revive the Calgary Flames? He was hired to be the team's director of hockey operations, but General Manager Jay Feaster has reason to worry.
Burke should make the Flames more interesting off the ice, if not on it.
4. Can the Phoenix Coyotes thrive under new ownership? They have been run by the NHL the last three years and have been held to low budgets.
Good management has kept them competitive, but they need to keep grooming kids and attract an established star or two.
5 Are six outdoor games too much of a good thing? Could be.
This six-pack -- which the league hopes will be ice cold -- features:
-- Toronto playing Detroit on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium
-- The Kings against the Ducks at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25
-- The Rangers vs. the Devils at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 26
-- The Rangers vs. the Islanders at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 29
-- The Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Blackhawks at Soldier Field on March 1
-- The Ottawa Senators facing the Canucks at BC Place in Vancouver on March 2
It's too much to expect the weather to hold six times or the novelty to last.
(c)2013 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services