Here Are Key Details From NHL’s 2020-21 Season Announcement

It will be a 56-game season beginning Jan. 13

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December 20, 2020

It’s official. Hockey is happening.

The NHL and NHLPA on Sunday announced they had passed the agreement for the 2020-21 season, meaning there will indeed be a campaign.

Here are the key details from the announcement.

— The season will be 56 games. Games will begin on Jan. 13, with the regular season wrapping up on May 8.

— There will be divisional realignment, as had been reported for weeks. Here’s a look at the divisions.

— As for the playoff format, it will return to the traditional 16 teams, best-of-seven, four-round format. Four teams will make the playoffs from each division. Teams reach the conference final by winning the first two rounds of the playoffs by beating a divisional opponent.

— The league explicitly stated that it plans to return to a normal league calendar for the 2021-22 season. Some key dates reported indicate that free agency will begin around July 28 (instead of the usual July 1), so the turnaround from free agency to training camp will be a little quicker than usual.

— With respect to health and safety protocols, the league has yet to announce those but said they’d be released soon.

— Here’s what the league said about the travel situation and the possibility of playing in hubs.

“In reaching agreement on the format for the 2020-21 season, the NHL and NHLPA determined that the ongoing closure of the U.S.-Canada border required realignment and the League and the Players also sought to minimize team travel as much as possible by shifting to exclusively intradivisional play. It is the current plan to play games in the home arenas of participating teams while understanding that most arenas will not, at least in the initial part of the season, be able to host fans. However, depending on prevailing conditions both in local markets and across North America, the League will be prepared to play games in one or more ?neutral site? venues per division should it become necessary.”

Certainly, more details will continue to be released. But all that matters right now is a framework is signed off on and now sights turn to training camp.

Thumbnail photo via John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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