The Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final 4–3 to win the Stanley Cup. It was the sixth Cup win in Bruins' franchise history. For the fourth consecutive season, the season started with games in Europe. The 58th All-Star Game was held at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, home arena of the Carolina Hurricanes, on January 30, 2011.
This was the final season of operation for the Atlanta Thrashers, who were sold to True North Sports and Entertainment out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg to become the "new" Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg had lost its previous NHL team, also called the Winnipeg Jets, after the 1995–96 NHL season to Phoenix, Arizona, and were renamed "Phoenix Coyotes." This was the second time the city of Atlanta lost an NHL franchise, having previously lost the Atlanta Flames to Calgary, Alberta after the 1979–80 season.
On June 23, 2010, the NHL announced that the salary cap would be increased by $2.6 million. As a result, the new salary cap ceiling is set at $59.4 million, while the salary cap floor is $43.4 million.
U.S. media rights
In April 2011, the NHL reached a new television deal with NBCUniversal, which was acquired by Comcast (owner of the NHL's current cable partner Versus) earlier in the year. The 10-year, US$2 billion deal extended and unified the broadcast and cable television rights to the league, held by NBC and Versus respectively. Notable changes under the new deal included an increase in nationally televised games on Versus (which was to be renamed under the NBC name), a new Thanksgiving Friday game on NBC, holding exclusive rights to all playoff games beginning with the second round (as opposed to the conference championships), and plans to broadcast all playoff games (subject to blackouts during the first round) nationally on NBCUniversal channels.
Main article: 2010 NHL Entry Draft
The 2010 NHL Entry Draft took place on June 25–26, 2010, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, home arena of the Los Angeles Kings. Taylor Hall was selected first overall in the draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Tyler Seguin was picked second by the Boston Bruins and Erik Gudbranson was chosen third by the Florida Panthers.
Tom Golisano, Larry Quinn and Daniel DiPofi, owners of the Buffalo Sabres, sold their franchise to Terrence Pegula during the course of the 2010–11 season. The league approved the sale February 18, 2011.
Prior to the 2010–11 season, the first tie-breaker to separate teams with equal number of points in a conference was the number of games won, no matter how the wins were obtained. For the 2010–11 season, the league made a modification to this rule. The new rule states that the team with the greater number of games won, excluding wins obtained in the shootout, will be ranked higher. The change was made to reward in-play team victories (regulation or overtime) instead of a win obtained via an individual skill contest. This figure will be tracked in an additional column in the official league standings called ROW (Regulation and overtime wins). In its first year, the tie-breaker proved critical, giving the 106-point, 47-win (44-ROW) Philadelphia Flyers the Atlantic Division title over the 106-point, 49-win (39-ROW) Pittsburgh Penguins, who were seeded fourth rather than second based on the new rule.
Illegal hits to the head
Prior to the 2010–11 season, the Board of Governors, General Managers and the Competition Committee unanimously agreed to implement a new penalty. An illegal hit to the head is a lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or is the principal point of contact is not permitted. Any player who incurs a total of two game misconducts under this rule shall be suspended automatically for the next game his team plays. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty, the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game. The commissioner of the league can increase the suspension longer due to his discretion.