The NHL Players Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League today announced an agreement to play the 2020-21 season with a 56-game schedule starting January 13, 2021 and ending May 8.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs will be played in the traditional four-of-seven format and feature 16 teams competing in four rounds to crown a champion in mid-July. The NHL hopes to return to a “normal” hockey schedule in the 2021-22 season (with a season starting in October). The NHL and the NHLPA will unveil in the coming days the details of the protocols related to health and safety, the regulations regarding the transition period, the important dates of the calendar as well as the schedule of the games for the 2020 season. 21.
Due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHLPA and the NHL intend to be flexible and adapt in their approach during the coming weeks in order to comply with local government directives and national authorities as well as those of health authorities to ensure the health and safety of players, staff in action during matches and the communities where matches are held. The priority will continue to be the health and safety of our fans, our players, our teams, the League, the NHLPA and the staff in the arenas.
« The National Hockey League is looking forward to when it kicks off the 2020-21 season, especially because the 2019-20 Resumption Protocol was a great success and resulted in a Stanley Cup champion being crowned. » , said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
“Although we understand the challenges facing us, as was the case last spring and summer, we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our participants and the communities in which our teams operate. As was the case last spring and summer, I want to thank the NHLPA, especially GM Don Fehr, for working cooperatively to get the League back on the ice.
« The players are happy that the agreement has been finalized for the next season, which will be unique, but also very exciting for fans and players, » said Don Fehr, general manager of the NHLPA. “In these more difficult times, we hope that the NHL games can provide fans with some well-deserved entertainment when the players return to the ice.
With the formula chosen for the 2020-21 season, the NHL and NHLPA have determined that the ongoing closure of the border between the United States and Canada requires a temporary reorganization of the sections, and the League and the players have also sought to minimize the movements of the teams by facing exclusively the formations of their own section. The current plan is to play games in each of the participating teams’ arenas, but we understand that most arenas, at least early in the season, will not be able to accommodate spectators. However, depending on the prevailing conditions in each of the markets and across North America, the League will be prepared to present games in one or more “neutral sites” in each of the sections, should it be necessary. .
For the 2020-21 season, the teams will be grouped into the following sections:
Each team from the East, Central and West sections will face each of the other formations in its section eight times, while the teams from the North section will face the other formations in the section nine or ten times.
The top four teams from each section will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and compete within their section for the first two rounds (first place vs. fourth place, second place vs. third place) . The four teams that will reach the semi-final round will be ranked based on their regular season point totals. The club with the most points will face the one with the fewest points in a series, while the team with the second highest total points will face the formation with the third highest total in the other semi-final.
The training camps will begin on January 3. There will be no preparatory matches. The seven teams that did not take part in the activity resumption plan in 2019-20 will be able to open their training camp from December 31.