The Nationwide Hockey League and union representing its gamers mentioned on Sunday they formally agreed to launch a shortened season in mid-January that can conclude in July and permit for a return to a traditional schedule for the 2021-22 marketing campaign subsequent October.
The 56-game common season, down from the standard 82 video games, will start on 13 January and be adopted by a conventional 16-team Stanley Cup Playoffs that includes 4, best-of-seven rounds.
A typical NHL season runs from October to June.
“Whereas we’re properly conscious of the challenges forward, as was the case final spring and summer time, we’re persevering with to prioritize the well being and security of our members and the communities during which we reside and play,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned in a joint information launch.
The NHL and NHL Gamers’ Affiliation mentioned they intend to be versatile and adaptable of their strategy in the course of the coming weeks to make sure compliance with well being authorities given the continued unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 2 sides mentioned the plan is to play video games in every groups’ dwelling enviornment whereas understanding that almost all venues won’t, at the least within the preliminary a part of the season, be capable of host followers.
On account of Covid-19 and the closure of the US-Canada border, the league and NHLPA additionally sought to attenuate group journey as a lot as potential and the season will shift solely to intradivisional play.
To accommodate this plan, the NHL’s 31 groups can be break up into 4 divisions – North, West, Central and West – together with a seven-team, all-Canadian division.
Formal coaching camps will start on 3 January. There can be no pre-season video games.
“The gamers are happy to have finalized agreements for the upcoming season, which can be distinctive but in addition very thrilling for the followers and gamers alike,” mentioned NHLPA government director Don Fehr.
“Throughout these troubled occasions, we hope that NHL video games will present followers with some a lot wanted leisure because the gamers return to the ice.”
The NHL’s 2019-20 season was suspended in March for practically 5 months due to Covid-19. Play resumed with a Stanley Cup event performed solely in Canada and the champion – Tampa Bay Lightning – was topped in September, three months later than common.