2020-21 NHL Season May Not Begin Until January, League Hopes For 82-Game Schedule

The NHL is mainly focused on the current Stanley Cup Final showdown between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But they’re also looking towards the hopeful start of the 2020-21 season, which is up in the air.

Initially, the league was eyeing a date of Nov. 17 for the start of training camp, with the regular season beginning two weeks later on Dec. 1. But on Saturday, commissioner Gary Bettman admitted that those dates will likely be pushed back.

Per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Bettman said it wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t commence the 2020-21 season until late December or in January of next year. Not only that, but the commissioner said he prefers “to stay out of summer as much as possible,” per Johnston.

Despite Bettman’s wish there, the NHL is also hoping to run the traditional 82-game schedule for next seen, per Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic.

The NHL season traditionally begins in early October, with the Stanley Cup Final concluding in mid-June.

That’s about eight and a half months of hockey, which means If the league were to begin an 82-game campaign in January, they likely wouldn’t finish until some point in September.

As such, it’s going to be hard for the NHL to run a full schedule while also avoiding as much summer hockey as possible.

Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, if necessary, is slated to take place on Sept. 30. The 2020 Entry Draft will run Oct. 6-7, with free agency opening up on Oct. 9.

Like the NHL, the NBA was also hoping to begin next season on Dec. 1, but commissioner Adam Silver recently admitted that the date is a little too optimistic. The NBA may also eye a January start.

We’ll just have to wait and see how things play out in the coming weeks, but right now, hockey fans may want to prepare for a possibility of three-plus months with no hockey. A Dec. 1 opening night is starting to look more unlikely.

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