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Breaking News: NHL lays out Vision and Plan for 2021 Season in private call

While you enjoyed your weekend you may not have been aware that the NHL’s General Managers were on a private call discussing all the factors regarding the upcoming 2020-21 NHL Season ahead.

Although the GMs were advised not to comment about the call with anyone outside the league there were things mentioned in public on some of those topics of discussion for next season.

— The NHL is still aiming for a Jan. 1st start, even though the scheduled New Year’s Day Winter Classic at Minnesota has been postponed with no rescheduled date yet.

The NHL’s objective remains to do whatever it can to play a full 82-game season with full arenas, but the league understands that is not very likely. The NHL is monitoring the state of COVID-19, travel restrictions between the United States and Canada and within the U.S., and regulations concerning indoor mass gatherings. In other words, which teams would be allowed to have fans in arenas, and how many?

Therefore a shorter schedule and the possibility of starting the season in a limited number of “hub cities” as a possible solution would require authorization from the NHL and the NHLPA. These would not be “bubbles” like what was used for the 2020 NHL Playoffs format in Edmonton and Toronto this past season. Instead, players and other team personnel would not be segregated from society, but rather would be expected to follow yet-to-be negotiated protocols much like the MLB players had been during their 2020 season.

Their would be a set amount of groups of teams sent to designated hub cities to compete for two-to-three weeks, and then shuttle home for a week or so of practice before their next assignment. The idea would be to play a portion of the schedule under this format before evolving to a more typical schedule once (or if) fans are permitted in a substantial number of NHL arenas.

Of course the topic of a Geographical realignment, including the creation of a Canadian Division, is a possibility too.

So what do we know has been discussed about the 2020-21 NHL Season?

— Training camp would be 14 days and include a maximum of 35 players (skaters plus goaltenders).

A  9 day conditioning camp including up to 35 players (skaters and goaltenders) for draft selections, entry-level players and tryouts, may be scheduled prior to camp. Players participating in conditioning camp must also be invited to the main camp.

The 7 clubs that did not make the 24-team NHL Playoffs format, and thus have not been on the ice since the mid-March pause of the 2019-20 season, will be granted an additional week-to-10 days of camp. This would make sense as these teams have not played a single game since mid-March of 2020.

The plan would be to play 3 to 4 exhibition games per NHL team.

— Team practice facilities are currently allowed to be open under Phase 2 regulations. The NHLPA is asking that up to 12 players be permitted on the ice at the same time.

Teams are required to test players twice a week during this voluntary phase, with clubs and league personnel advising players that they should use their respective teams’ facilities — and not public rinks — once “in market.”

Relatively few players, however, are “in-market,” with most remaining at home until definitive training-camp dates are set.

However there are still several teams that have not opened their facilities.

Any and more information to come out will be updated on this post.

Stay Tuned.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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