A new NHL season is on the way. On Sunday, the league announced it will play a 56-game regular season starting Jan. 13, 2021. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are slated to begin May 8 and last into July.
The league and NHLPA have come to an agreement on key dates and framework for the 2021 season, including scheduling, temporary realignment and COVID-19 protocols, among the scheduling highlights is that teams will only play other clubs in their division during the regular season.
The NHL created a Canadian division as part of its realignment, called the North division, along with the West, Central and East divisions this season.
The news comes following a lengthy negotiation process in which the NHL and NHLPA found themselves at a stalemate over financial issues. After initially targeting a Dec. 1 start date, the league and players' association pushed back the proposed dates as they continued to battle over concessions.
The two sides reached an agreement on a financial arrangement in July but -- much like the situation we saw play out with MLB earlier this year -- owners informed the players that they were seeking additional concessions because of the state of the pandemic. The players held their ground and, this week, the two sides moved forward with the initial financial agreement.
Following a four-month shutdown due to COVID-19, the NHL successfully completed last season with an expanded Stanley Cup Playoffs played within two bubble cities (Toronto and Edmonton). Over the course of the NHL's return to play, the league conducted 33,174 COVID-19 tests in those two hub cities and had zero positive cases.