NHL Reaches Agreement To Start Regular Season, 4 Divisions Only, Without Fans
The NHL season is set to start on January 13 after the league and players reached an agreement for the season. The 2020-2021 season will be shortened from the usual 82 games to 56 games. The playoffs will last until July where a team will win the coveted Stanley Cup.
On Friday night, the Board of Governors voted to approve an agreement that was backed by the player’s association. The regular season will conclude on the eighth of May, it will be followed by a 16 team playoff format.
The NHLPA executed director Don Fehr announced the agreement saying, “The players are pleased to have finalized agreements for the upcoming season, which will be unique but also very exciting.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement saying, “The National Hockey League looks forward to the opening of our 2020-21 season.” Bettman went further to reiterate their priority on the safety of the players, “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.”
The NHL clarified on whether there will be fans in the arenas, “It is the current plan to play games in the home arenas of participating teams while understanding that most arenas will not, at least in the initial part of the season, be able to host fans,” the league said.
The regular season will only have four divisions – North, East, Central and West. In three of the four divisions, teams will play against one another eight times. During the first two rounds of the playoffs, games will be limited to within their divisions in order to limit travel. The full NHL schedule will be released in the coming days.
It is possible for teams to play in neutral sites if needed. However, it is still unknown where Canadian teams will play until there are agreements with federal and provincial health officials.
Training camp will begin on January 3. However, the seven teams that missed the playoffs will be allowed to start three days before the official training camp date. There will be no exhibition games before the regular season starts.
The teams that will be in the Northern division are the Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.
The Eastern Division will be composed of the following teams, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and the Buffalo Sabres.
The Central division will feature the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The teams making up the West division are the Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks and the Las Vegas Golden Knights.