Winnipeg will be front and centre when the National Hockey League raises the curtain on the 2011-12 regular season.

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Winnipeg will be front and centre when the National Hockey League raises the curtain on the 2011-12 regular season.

Sources have told the Free Press the season's Oct. 6 debut -- dubbed NHL Face-Off -- will include a live network broadcast launch from The Forks on opening night.

The campaign begins with the Montreal Canadiens in Toronto facing the Maple Leafs at 6 p.m. and the Pittsburgh Penguins in Vancouver meeting the Canucks at 9 p.m.

Both of those games are on CBC with one other game, featuring the Philadelphia Flyers travelling to Boston to face the Stanley-Cup champion Bruins, to be televised on Versus.

The festivities will all be part of a four-day build-up to the Jets' first contest at the MTS Centre against the Canadiens on Sunday, Oct. 9. The game will be televised nationally on CBC, and the puck drops at 4 p.m.

Word is the party in Winnipeg will include a "major Canadian concert act," with one of the bands rumoured to be Nickelback.

The NHL ran a similar campaign in past seasons with last year's NHL Face-Off including an entertainment festival in Toronto that featured live musical performances, interactive hockey-skills games, giveaways, appearances by former NHL players, merchandise tents and live game broadcasts on giant video screens.

As well, the season opens with four NHL teams -- the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers ---- making their 2011-12 debuts in Europe.

On Oct. 7 the Kings and Rangers meet in Stockholm with the Sabres and Ducks in Helsinki. On Saturday, the Ducks face the Rangers in Berlin, marking the first NHL game ever in Germany.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca