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NHL Pushes Back Season Start Date, Looking at 56-Game Schedule

The NHL and NHLPA agreed to some changes on Thursday night and at the very least, a shortened 2020-21 season is on the way.

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It appears there is a shortened season on the way. Sources confirmed to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic on Friday that things are changing from the NHL in terms of a start date for the 2020-21 season, how many games the league will shoot for and when training camps will start, among other newsworthy items. Below are the latest developments…

Related: Don’t Expect Many 2020-21 NHL In-Season Trades Says Busy GM

LeBrun writes in an article this morning on The Athletic that sources confirmed the NHL has officially given up on a January 1 start date and both sides realize that date is not realistic. The NHLPA has asked about mid-January instead. The two sides have also tossed around the idea of a 52-game or 56-game schedule. Both sides prefer a 56-game option but the important note here is that everyone has agreed a full season is completely out the window at this stage.

If all of this comes to pass, training camps for all 31 teams would start around Jan. 2, “although that could still be tweaked.”

When Is the Earliest We Could See Anything Start?

As far a pre-camps for the non-playoff teams from this past season — the Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Senators, Red Wings, Sabres and Devils — holding these early camps is still on the table but not guaranteed. If a go, it would start in late December.

NHL COVID-19 Tests
NHL COVID-19 Tests

LeBrun also notes that an end date of July is critical for the NHL. He explains:

Sources suggest the NHL is adamant about wrapping up the Stanley Cup Final by early July, ahead of the summer Olympics. In part, because TV partner NBC is broadcasting those Olympics but another important part is wanting to get back to the normal schedule cycle ahead of the 2021-22 season. 

While there is more than could be tweaked and really, the pandemic controls the entire situation, this is a start of the two sides realizing that the hope of getting a full season is won’t be happening.

Next: 7 NHL Teams Exploring Outdoor Games for 2020-21 Season

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