The NHL 2020-21 season ready to begin, or is it?

I woke up this morning to push notifications from the NHL’s app informing me that the new NHL 2020-21 season will drop the puck on January 13, 2021.

nhl teams

In spite of the news, reports continue to come out today claiming the date is merely tentative and issues could arise to stop the campaign from beginning.

What’s going on with the NHL 2020-21 season?

On Friday, the NHL and NHLPA reached an agreement on a tentative deal that would see teams play a 56-game season — down from the normal 82. The season would begin on January 13, but before that can happen, the NHL and NHLPA’s executive boards and Canadian health officials must agree on all terms.

On Saturday, reports indicated that the health boards of Canada could shoot down the agreement that was reached, sinking the NHL 2020-21 season.

How will the NHL look in 2020-21?

Over a month ago, we reported that the NHL would have an all-Canadian division to prevent teams from travelling across the US-Canada border. However, if the health boards of Canada shoot down the idea of play hockey this season, all of Canada’s NHL teams will move south and play their “home” games in the US. It is similar to what we will see from the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, who will make Tampa, Florida home in 2021.

According to the CBC article, the Canadian government is not excited about the Canadian NHL teams going from province to province, city to city as they try to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NHL has less than 30 days to make decisions and get things in order. If the league keeps with its January 13 target date, key dates would be as follows:

  • Training camps for the seven teams that did not participate in last season’s playoff bubbles would open Dec. 31
  • Training camps for the teams that made the post-season would commence Jan. 3
  • The regular season would tentatively end on May 8. Playoffs would follow with the Stanley Cup to be awarded by the first week of July

If there is an all-Canada division, the country would be guaranteed that one team makes it to the NHL’s final four for the first time since Winnipeg in 2018. The first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs would be divisional games, with the first four teams in each division qualifying, followed by the four division winners playing in the semifinals. The semifinals will be seeded by regular-season points.

There are questions around whether the Canadian teams would all be located in one city and play as if it were a “hub” like in the playoffs or if each would be located in their own American city. It should be noted that the San Jose Sharks will relocate for this season as Santa Clara County, California has banned sports events from taking place for the immediate future.

Teams are not expected to play pre-season games.

Although the NHL jumped to announce a 56-game season was agreed on Friday and their social media was filled with images and posts on the same day, everything is still up in the air according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

 

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