No one knows when the 2020-21 NHL season will begin or what it will look like. But it’s fair to assume it won’t be a normal schedule.
The league crowned the Tampa Bay Lightning the 2019-20 Stanley Cup champions in September, which usually is when the preseason is wrapping up.
The NHL has targeted a Jan. 1 start date, which likely would mean a shortened season in order to crown a Stanley Cup winner before the Summer Olympics in July.
And according to a report from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski, the league does not want to have fewer than 48 games.
“That could mean upward of 65 games or as low as 48 games, like we’ve seen in seasons impacted by work stoppages. According to league sources, a 48-game season is considered the absolute minimum at this point,” the pair reported Monday.
So, what does that mean for the playoffs?
“After that shortened regular season, expect a traditional 16-team Stanley Cup playoff tournament.”
Twenty-four teams made the playoffs last season after a four-month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regular season was cut short and we jumped right into playoffs.
Of course, none of this is set in stone. But if the NHL indeed does want a Jan. 1 start date, a lot of work needs to be done.