NHL Season Set at 56 Games
The 2020-21 National Hockey League season will once again be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the regular season schedule has been significantly shortened.
The NHL and the NHLPA have reached an agreement to play 56 regular-season games with the season starting on Jan. 13.
This is a preliminary agreement, and there are still a few things that need to happen before this news becomes official. The executive board of both the NHL and NHLPA each need to approve this deal, and the health officials in Canada need to do the same.
The NHLPA executive board was set to meet on Friday night to discuss the tentative agreement, and the NHL executive board could meet at some point this weekend. The biggest hurdle is likely to come from health officials in Canada as they decide what to make of the travel restrictions placed between Canada and the United States.
Division realignment is expected to take place for the 2020-21 season, and the league was hoping to put all of the Canada teams in one division. New COVID-19 restrictions announced earlier this week could force Canadian teams to stay in the United States, as some provinces won’t allow for physical sports to take place.
Financial agreements were a major point of discussion during these negotiations, but both sides have agreed to follow the collective bargaining extension that was signed in 2020. Players have agreed to defer 10 percent of their salaries, and the salary cap will be set at $81.5 million.
Some clubs have explored the idea of playing home games outdoors so that fans could attend, but that was not discussed in this announcement. Delaying the start of the season until 2021 could allow fans to attend home games in some states.
The 2019-20 season was completed by playing in two bubble cities in Canada, but the league is not exploring those options at this time. If this deal is confirmed, teams would not be playing in any exhibition games leading up to the season opener in mid-January.
If this deal is approved, training camps for the teams that did not participate in the bubble this summer would begin on Dec. 31. The rest of the league would begin training camp on Jan. 3.
Avalanche a Stanley Cup Favorite
No matter when the 2021 NHL season starts, the Colorado Avalanche will begin play as one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Colorado had a disappointing end to the 2019-20 season, as they were eliminated by the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Avalanche have been building up their roster for a run at the Stanley Cup, and the 2020-21 season could be their best chance to win the elusive title. Division realignment could make things tougher on the Avalanche, but an official announcement has not yet been made.
FanDuel Sportsbook has the Colorado Avalanche at +650 to win the Stanley Cup, making them the early favorites. Following the Avalanche are the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights, both at +700.
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