Back in March, the NHL followed in other league’s footsteps and decided to postpone the season until further notice after the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t until May when the league put together a return-to-play plan for the season to continue. In August, teams entered a bubble in Edmonton and Toronto as they started back up with the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It wasn’t until September that the Stanley Cup Final commenced and the Tampa Bay Lightning were crowned as champions. In the middle of all of that, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a new CBA in July that extended for a few more years.
Fast forward to now and there have no little to no progress on the start of the 2020-21 NHL season. When the league agreed to the CBA this past summer, the thought was that fans would be able to attend games. At this point, that doesn’t look likely. The owners now have gone back on the current CBA that was agreed upon in July and have asked players to take less money due to financial losses to Covid.
During the last couple of days, rumors and talks have swirled around about the upcoming season. There still hasn’t been progress on talks but the NHL has thrown around some thoughts to present to the NHLPA about all facets of the upcoming season. Some of the talking points are the start of the season, the length of the season, and possibly some home games being played outdoors. The late start to the season means that the playoffs will start late and the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals possibly extending into July. Whatever the talks are about, fans are just waiting for some type of good news of the start of the NHL season.
Stanley Cup Finals In July?
The Start Date
Soon after the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals finished, many believed that the NHL season would start up again soon. The league targeted a start date around around January 1st. As the offseason started getting later and later, many questioned if that was possible. That start date is unlikely but there might be a new start date that is targeted. A January 15th or 16th start date is being discussed and will be brought up in feature talks. That is later than many fans wanted, but if it means there’ll be a hockey season, we’ll take it.
Length Of Season
With the talks of the start date came the talks of how long the season would be. Again, there have been no talks to this point but a 53-56 games schedule will be brought to the table. One positive about that is both sides would prefer a 56-schedule so they’re getting somewhere. With the season possibly starting mid-January with a 56-game schedule, the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 2021 Stanley Cup Final would be later than usual with the Finals ending somewhere around early July. In the 2012-13 NHL lockout, they only played 48 games before the Chicago Blackhawks were awarded the Stanley Cup.
Outdoor Home Games?
This part of the rumor isn’t necessarily being talked about as part of the agreement but it’s interesting nonetheless. Multiple teams have expressed all options to start this season and that includes playing home outdoor games. The thought is that teams would be able to host more fans of some sort at an outdoor event. Having a season with no fans would be a hard pillow to swallow due to money. Fans have loved outdoor hockey games for a long time and this would make it even more fun to watch.
A lot to digest? Well let’s just say some believe that the season will get started, we just don’t know when. The NHL is bent on getting this season underway while other sports are playing as well. Probably the biggest hurdle to clear for the upcoming season is the economic issues. The league would have to figure out safety protocols and things of that nature. No matter what, fans are anxious to hear any news on the upcoming season and get it underway as soon as possible.
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