The NHL’s Board of Governors has approved the agreement between the league and NHLPA for a 56-game 2020-21 season.
The regular season will begin on Jan. 13 and conclude on May 8. The Stanley Cup Playoffs will feature 16 teams in the traditional best-of-seven, four-round format and wrap up around mid-July. The plan is to return to a “normal” hockey calendar for the 2021-22 season.
“The National Hockey League looks forward to the opening of our 2020-21 season, especially since the Return to Play in 2019-20 was so successful in crowning a Stanley Cup champion,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a press release. “While we are well aware of the challenges ahead, as was the case last spring and summer, we are continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and play.
“And, as was the case last spring and summer, I thank the NHLPA, particularly Executive Director Don Fehr, for working cooperatively with us to get our League back on the ice.”
The NHL is going with a division realignment that includes a seven-team Canadian division, which still requires approval from local health officials for the games to be held north of the border.
East: Boston-Buffalo-New Jersey-NY Islanders-NY Rangers-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh-Washington
Central: Carolina-Chicago-Columbus-Detroit-Florida-Dallas-Nashville-Tampa Bay
West: Anaheim-Arizona-Colorado-Minnesota-Los Angeles-Las Vegas-San Jose-St. Louis
Each team in the East, Central and West divisions will play every other team in its division eight times, while each team in the North Division will square off nine or 10 times. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs.
“The players are pleased to have finalized agreements for the upcoming season, which will be unique but also very exciting for the fans and Players alike,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. “During these troubled times, we hope that NHL games will provide fans with some much needed entertainment as the players return to the ice.”
Training camps begin on Jan. 3, but teams that did not qualify for the 2020 post-season will be permitted to begin activities on Dec. 31. No pre-season games will be held.