The National Hockey League Players’ Association and National Hockey League have formally agreed to play a 2020-21 regular-season schedule of 56 games beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, the League and Players announced on Sunday.
As part of the agreement, the Stanley Cup Playoffs would feature 16 teams in the traditional best-of-seven, four-round format and conclude around mid-July.
The 2021-22 season will return to a "normal" hockey calendar with the regular season starting in October.
“The National Hockey League looks forward to the opening of our 2020-21 season, especially since the Return to Play in 2019-20 was so successful in crowning a Stanley Cup champion,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “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. And, as was the case last spring and summer, I thank the NHLPA, particularly Executive Director Don Fehr, for working cooperatively with us to get our League back on the ice.”
The league intends to be flexible and adaptable in their approach during the coming weeks to ensure compliance with directives from both local and national governmental and health authorities focusing on the health and safety of the players other game-related personnel and the communities in which we playother game-related personnel and the communities in which the teams play.
“The Players are pleased to have finalized agreements for the upcoming season, which will be unique but also very exciting for the fans and Players alike,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. “During these troubled times, we hope that NHL games will provide fans with some much needed entertainment as the players return to the ice.”
Due to COVID-19 and the ongoing closure of the U.S.-Canada border, the league determined it would require realignment for the divisions.
The league will be split into four divisions, North, West, Central and East.
The North Division includes all seven Canadian teams. They will play every other team in its division nine or 10 times, while the other three divisions will play every other team in its division eight times.
Formal training camps will begin on Jan. 3.
The seven teams that did not participate in the 2019-20 Return to Play will be permitted to open their training camps as early as Dec. 31.
There will be no pre-season games.
TSN Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli reported on Sunday that Ontario and Quebec health officials, along with BC, have not signed off on NHL protocols and that talks are expected to continue early this week.