We finally get to know more about what, but especially, when the 2020-21 will look like and get underway. Earlier today, NHL Deputy commissioner Bill Daly sent out a memo to all teams across the National Hockey League to let them know what was next in order to put a plan together for the start of the 2020-21 season. He mentioned that the league’s objective remains to start the campaign on January 1st, with the hopes of wrapping things up by April in order to get back to a normal schedule in 2021-22.
More information was revealed when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke in a virtual panel discussion during the 2020 Paley International Summit, saying that the league is exploring short-term hubs, a temporary realignment and a reduced schedule for the 2020-21 season. Bettman explained that the league is exploring teams playing in their own arenas - with or without fans - in hubs or a hybrid system.
"You'll play for 10 to 12 days," Bettman said during the conference per Nick Cotsonika of NHL.com. “You’ll play a bunch of games without travelling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We'll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need.”
The commissioner also added that he would never ask players to return to a similar bubble system that took place during the NHL's Return to Play for the 2020 playoffs. Many players had expressed their worry about returning to an isolated bubble.
Bettman revealed a few more things about this potential scenario for the upcoming season, which seems to take shape more and more.
“Obviously, we’re not going to move all seven Canadian franchises south of the 49th Parallel, and so we have to look at alternative ways to play” Bettman said. “And while crossing the US-Canadian border is an issue, we’re also seeing within the United States limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states. It’s again part of having to be flexible.
“It may be that we’re better off, particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we are contemplating, keeping it geographically centric, more divisional based, and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issue.”
If this is all getting put in the scenario that will be presented to players, it sounds like the NHL has done a lot of work to get the season underway. Exciting!