NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has voiced his optimism about playing the entire, 82-game schedule for the 2020-21 season despite obvious disruptions impacting the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign.

Bettman apparently stands by those. The commissioner, who announced the league’s return to play plan for the current season Tuesday, explained that no matter how late the 2020-21 season starts, he still would like to play the full slate of games.

Bettman, while speaking on NBCSN, indicated the league’s 2020-21 season could be pushed back into December or even January, depending when the 2019-20 playoffs, which will feature 24 teams, is concluded.

“We believe 2021 will be played in its entirety. There’s no magic to starting in October,” Bettman said, per Penalty Box Radio’s Justin Bradford. “… We could start in January if we have to. We prefer to delay the start of the 2021 season by a couple months.”

With Bettman, of course, focusing on getting players back on the ice to finish the 2019-20 season, it seems thoughts regarding the upcoming campaign aren’t all that far away either.

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Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports