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After by far the weirdest and most unpredictable 2019-20 NHL season, the Tampa Bay Lightning finished the job by beating the Dallas Stars in six games to hoist up the Stanley Cup. This comes after a four-month hiatus where the entire world was on lock down for the COVID-19 pandemic. With the success/conclusion of the bubble and no fans being in attendance, we take a look at what’s next for the 2020-21 season:
With October coming in it feels very uneasy not having hockey start back up with the usual start date. However, fans won’t have to wait entirely too long for the puck to drop again. The last reported start date was said by commissioner Gary Bettman to be December first but then Bettman said this before Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals:
“December first has always been a notional date. I will not be surprised if it slips into later December, could slip into January but there’s no point right now in making any definitive comments on our plans because there’s still too much we don’t know.”
Another big question that came up in this conversation with commissioner Bettman was if the NHL would grant limited capacity of fans to join in arenas for next season. Some of the NFL and European soccer stadiums have permitted limited capacity for fans. Bettman continued to deflect the notion but didn’t rule it out completely.
“How we start doesn’t necessarily relate to how we’re going to finish,” Bettman said in regard to fans in NHL arenas. “So if we’re going to speculate – and this is pure speculation, I’m just throwing it out there as a random thought – it’s conceivable that we start without fans, that we move to socially distant fans at some point and by some point in time maybe our buildings are open.”
So for hockey fans who are anxiously awaiting for the official start date for next season, the NHL off-season is immediately about to start. The NHL Draft is set for October 6th and 7th and will be held virtually. Following the draft the free agency period starts on October 9th.