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The 2008–09 NHL season was the 92nd season of operation (91st season of play) of the National Hockey League (NHL). It was the first season since prior to the 2004–05 lockout in which every team played each other at least once during the season, following three seasons where teams only played against two divisions in the other conference (one division at home and one on the road.) It began on October 4, with the regular season ending on April 12. The Stanley Cup playoffs ended on June 12, with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking the championship. The Montreal Canadiens hosted the 57th NHL All-Star Game at the Bell Centre on January 25, 2009, part of the Canadiens' 100th season celebration.
National Hockey League announced that the regular season salary cap would be going up for the fourth straight season. The 2008–09 salary cap is being increased by $6,400,000 (US) per team to bring the salary cap up to $56,700,000 (US). The salary floor is at $40,700,000 (US), which is higher than the salary cap on 2005–06 season.
The NHL brought in a number of rule changes for the start of the 2008–09 NHL season aimed at increasing offence and safety. The first rule change was to Rule 76.2 on faceoffs. The first faceoff of a power play will now be in the defending zone of the team that committed the foul, regardless of where the play was stopped. The second rule dealt with the issue of safety while players are pursuing the puck on a potential icing call. Rule 81.1 states that, "Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player." Another rule change prohibits TV commercials, game breaks, and any line changes immediately after an icing call.