Late Friday afternoon, the NHL announced that they had come to terms with the NHLPA for plans on a 56 game regular season that would begin on January 13, 2021. On Sunday, they formalized the agreement after a Board of Governors meeting.
The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun summed up the important dates in a tweet. Note that there is a trade deadline date (April 12th) and the last day of the regular season is my birthday (May 8th). Just another reason to celebrate that day, no?
So, to recap:
Puck drop: Jan. 13
Trade deadline: April 12
End of reg season: May 8
Expansion draft: July 21
NHL draft: July 23-24
Free-agent Frenzy: July 28
July 29: LeBrun goes to cottage https://t.co/um2EkAIOc6
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 20, 2020
Playoffs will entail the usual 16-team format with the top 4 teams in each division playing each other in best of seven series for the first two rounds. The top team from each division will be seeded in the semi-final round according to the amount of regular season points they amassed in the regular season.
The 31 teams will be divided into temporary divisions including one that holds all the Canadian teams.
North: Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets
East: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals
Central: Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, and Tampa Bay Lightning
West: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, St Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, and Vegas Golden Knights
Originally this was the case because travel between the US-Canada border is closed to all but necessary travel. However, each Canadian province has its own Covid travel restrictions, so the Canadian teams may have to relocate to the US for the season. This has still not be determined yet as league officials are hoping that each of the 5 provinces will sign off on league protocols. As for travel, players will have strict rules to follow. Basically players are restricted to their rooms (without housekeeping), the team transports to the practice facilities, and the rink.
Language in protocol continues to change, and will further with input from provincial health authorities.
No guests in hotel rooms. No use of hotel gym. No housekeeping. Assigned seats on buses and planes. In-flight catering eliminated where feasible, etc.
It’s all spelled out.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 19, 2020
Training camps will start on January 3rd for all but the 7 teams left out of the bubbles last season. Training camps for the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks can open their camps as early as December 31. Prior to the start of the season there will be no pre-season games.