I feel the need to preface this with “stop me if you’ve heard this before,” so here you go: stop me if you’ve heard this before. The NHL and NHLPA, pending agreement that should happen this weekend or Monday at the latest, will be starting a 56 game season in mid-January.
There is word tonight NHL & NHLPA have tentative deal on 56-game season.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 19, 2020
Camps? Camps could open for some teams as soon as December 31st. This doesn’t leave time for pre-season games, much to the disappointment of the seven non-playoff teams from 2020, who haven’t played since March 13th.
The new divisions still have to be hammered out, though playoffs will consist of the top four teams in each division, not the usual wild card set-up. This means that some teams will be left out of the playoffs despite finishing with more points than other teams in different divisions. Without the traditional conferences, though, the league doesn’t have much of a choice. With the rumor swirling that Canadian teams will be playing their games in US cities, the necessity of an all-Canada division is diminished. Will this cause a re-realignment?
Other key details, such as protocols, fans in the buildings (though not for a while), and what the league has planned if there is a needed delay to games or the season, still have to be settled. It does look like the NHL season will start sooner rather than later. If they can live up to the standards set during the playoff bubble, it may be a successful one.