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There will be hockey!
The NHL and NHLPA came to an agreement for the start of the 2020-21 season. This news came out last Sunday when the league announced a 56-game season that will start on January 13th, 2021 and end on May, 8th, 2021. The season will conclude and then a 16-team Stanley Cup Playoffs will come afterwards, ending around mid-july.
- Expansion draft: July 21st
- NHL Draft: July 23rd-24th
- Start of free agency: July 28th
The 2021-22 season is expected to start in October.
This season is starting late because of concerns over COVID-19 and obviously changes are essential for the safety of players and all involved, so here’s what we know:
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said all credit goes to both sides – the NHL and players’ union for getting everything together for the start of the season after fans have been patiently waiting. Bettman stated, “While we are well aware of the challenges ahead, as was the case last spring and summer, we are continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and play.”
Bettman continued: “I thank the NHLPA, particularly Executive Director Don Fehr, for working cooperatively with us to get our League back on the ice.”
The NHL officially announced the schedule for all teams and the league has sent out the mandatory health and safety precautions. With COVID-19, the NHL felt that re-alignment was necessary because the United States-Canada border is closed off and it would provide the easiest route for safety. Each division – East, West, Central, and lastly the re-aligned North division consisting of all-Canada NHL teams will have to be ready for on the fly adjustments.
The league is planning to play at all home arenas for the season, with no fans at first but depending on how the season shapes out along with the control of COVID-19, the decision will be in limbo. Each home team will determine the fan capacity as the season progresses. But if COVID-19 local restrictions say otherwise to teams playing at home arenas, the NHL will figure out a neutral location.
As for the playoffs, the top four teams in each division will be in the postseason. The first two rounds will be intradivisional, with the first place team playing the fourth place team in standard bracket format. The teams will be reseeded when the Seminfinals start.
Mark your calendars, as five games are scheduled for January 13th.