When does the 2021 NHL season begin? Newest updates on dates, video games, alignment and rosters for the upcoming season

It looks like the NHL’s 2021 season is in full swing.

Initially, Commissioner Gary Bettman was optimistic that the new season would start on January 1st. However, there were a few hiccups along the way that needed to be addressed.

Now, with the biggest hurdle (finance) in the rearview mirror, there’s supposedly a new timeline in place and we may see the puck drop in just a few weeks.

Of course, nothing is set in stone or even close to official, but here’s a breakdown of everything we know about the possible return of the NHL.

When does the NHL season start for 2021?

  • Training camp start date (reported): January 3, 2021
  • NHL Season Start Date (Reported): January 13, 2021

According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, an NHL team leader told him that the season is expected to begin on January 13th. This was confirmed on December 7th.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman added that non-bubble participants would open camp on December 28th and the remaining 24 teams would land on the ice on January 1st. On Tuesday, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that the camps would open on January 3rd.

There was no official announcement as of December 17, but players have begun cutting ties with their European clubs or grabbing their off-season homeland to return to their NHL cities.

On his Instagram, it looks like Calgary Flames winger (and last season’s top scorer) Matthew Tkachuk is set to return to town to quarantine himself in preparation for a potential NHL training camp pic.twitter.com/ZXtHBPf0qb put

– Salim Nadim Valji (@salimvalji) December 17, 2020

How many games are played?

In the same tweet from Wyshysnki, its source also confirmed a 56-game season. That makes sense because things have to be completed by a certain date.

As Golden Knights owner Bill Foley stated in a radio interview in October, NBC is not only home to the NHL postseason, but also the Olympic Games, which are slated to take place in late July. Foley may also have hit the game number on the head in this interview.

“If we play 56 games in four months, that’s a lot of games,” he said of a likely shortened season and why he kept No. 1 goalkeepers Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury in Vegas. “There won’t be a break. There will be a lot of back to back. In theory we’ll be playing four games a week to end this season. Maybe even more – five games a week.”

Bettman also noted in November that one of the league’s goals “is to get back to a normal schedule [next] fall and be carried out longer term before July. That is the goal. “

Basically, the plan this year is not summer hockey and therefore a shortened season.

How will games work?

In the past few months there has been mention of how the NHL will work in terms of gaming. What is clear is that there will be no seasonal bubble. The toll it took to be isolated for weeks to months during the Stanley Cup playoffs was made evident by players and coaches alike, depending on how deep the squad was. Neither she nor the NHL shows up for it.

Talks on the subject continue and range from regular games to games in short-term hubs to a hybrid system of both or even, according to ESPN’s Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan, a series of three to four MLB-style games. On December 16, Friedman reported that Columbus; Newark, NJ; Las Vegas and Edmonton / Toronto were discussed as locations for these hubs.

“They’ll be playing for 10 to 12 days,” Bettman said on Nov. 10 when speaking at the 2020 Paley International Council Summit. “You will play a number of games without traveling. You will return, go home for a week, be with your family. We will have our test protocols and whatever other things you need.

“It won’t be quite as effective as a bubble, but we believe that if we go this route we can minimize the risks as much as possible and meaningful. And that’s one of the things we’re talking about.”

There’s also the issue of COVID-19 restrictions in California and Manitoba, which could affect the ducks, kings, sharks, and jets playing at home. You may have to travel to another state to play, a la the NFL 49ers who are now calling Arizona home. Athletic’s Kevin Kurz noted that the Sharks are likely to be holding a training camp somewhere in the Phoenix area.

And then there’s the latest fold from Canada. On December 17, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported that the NHL’s seven Canadian clubs may be forced to play south of the border. Johnston stated that the provincial governments in Canada prefer bubbles like summer hockey while the NHL would prefer not to go that route. MLB’s Blue Jays had to and the NBA’s Raptors will play home games in the US. However, this appeared to have more to do with cross-border travel, and the NHL was aiming for a division across Canada.

I received this response from a spokesman for the Canada Public Health Agency: “The priority of the Canadian government is to protect the health and safety of Canadians.”

– Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) December 17, 2020

What is the alignment like?

This is supposed to be a difficult place. Say goodbye to the conference and departmental alignments you’ve memorized for years – at least for the 2021 season.

Teams need to be relocated for a myriad of reasons, such as: B. to keep travel expenses down, state quarantine restrictions and the (possibly) closed border between Canada and the United States. The border is initially closed until December 21; However, the date has been postponed several times since the pandemic began and the closure is expected to be extended.

“Regarding the travel problem, which is obviously the big unknown, we may need to temporarily realign ourselves to deal with geography, and that may make sense as some of our teams may not be traveling from Florida to California.” Said Bettman.

“We may be better off, especially if we play a reduced schedule that we think about, keep geographically centered, more department-based, and temporarily realign ourselves to cope with the schedule.” Travel problems. “

This All Canada division is the NHL’s worst-kept secret. Foley actually brought it up during the October radio appearance when asked if he would like to play against the recently traded Nate Schmidt.

“Yeah, but they’ll play in the Canadian division,” he said of the Canucks.

“I think they will play a Canadian division,” he added when pressed. “I don’t think they’re going to cross the border.”

With a number of outlets discussing different combinations, Sporting News believes that current restrictions may cause things to rock.

Department A.

As Sporting News mentioned on Nov. 10th, how about you return to the old Adams Division for that one season?

Boston Bruins Buffalo Sabers
New Jersey Devils New York Islanders
New York Rangers Philadelphia Flyer
Pittsburgh penguins Washington Capitals

Department B.

Or Norris Division?

Carolina Hurricanes Chicago Blackhawks
Columbus Blue Jackets Detroit Red Wings
Florida panthers Nashville Predators
St. Louis Blues Tampa Bay Lightning

Department C.

Smythe Division, anyone?

Anaheim ducks Arizona Coyotes
Colorado avalanche Dallas Stars
Los Angeles Kings Minnesota Wild
San Jose Sharks Vegas Golden Knights

Canada Division

Last but not least, Patrick Division?

Calgary Flames Edmonton Oilers
Montreal Canadiens Senators from Ottawa
Toronto Maple Leafs Vancouver Canucks
Winnipeg jets

Will the rosters be expanded?

As in the NHL bubble, rosters are expected to expand. Seravalli reported on December 8th that the rosters will be increased from “23 to 26 with four additional members of the taxi squad for a total of 30”.

As reported in Insider Trading on @SportsCentre, CGY, EDM and VAN are planning to leave their AHL teams for the 20-21 season in 🇺🇸, making additional cross-border stakes quite difficult.

Manitoba, Toronto, Laval and Belleville plan to play in AHL’s All-Div.

Preliminary start of the AHL on February 5th

– Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 9, 2020

It has been reported that the Canadian NHL teams with AHL subsidiaries in the United States (Calgary-Stockton, Calif.; Edmonton-Bakersfield, Calif.; Vancouver-Utica, NY) will keep their baby clubs in the south. This makes things interesting when callbacks are needed.

MORE: When will the AHL return? Key dates, NHL impact for the 2021 season

Why did it take so long to get to this point?

One word: money.

In mid-November, it was reported that the NHL was looking to tweak the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that extended the CBA in July, and players weren’t too happy about it.

Sources say there will be no more discussion of proposed financial changes to the letter of intent setting out the terms of the CBA. On Sunday, the NHLPA proposed more deferred funds, but at no point did they include an increase in the escrow percentage. Now focus on a season start in mid-January.

– Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 8, 2020

Friedman said the NHL has sent the NHL Players’ Association two proposals for escrow and payment deferrals. In the end, the NHLPA stuck and the NHL removed the request.

MORE: Explain escrow, deferred payments and how it may affect the upcoming season

Will there be fans?

Still no big update on that. As of now, each state or province has its own social setting and group guidelines, so this may not be known for a while. Bettman said during his annual press conference on the Stanley Cup final in September that admitting fans is a fluid situation.

“I’m just throwing it out as a random thought: It is conceivable that we will start without fans, that at some point we will switch to socially distant fans and at some point our buildings may be open,” he said. “I’m not saying that it is, but if you think through every possible way – it’s full, it’s empty, there’s a combination – and how we start doesn’t necessarily mean we have to end like this.”

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