On Tuesday night, we shared the information from Frank Seravalli of TSN that most general managers across the league are expecting the 2020-21 campaign to start in mid-January or even February.
When it was announced that the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft will take place on Oct. 6, with rounds two through seven taking place the following day, and free agency scheduled to start three days after the first round of the draft on Oct. 9, most fans believed the 2020-21 campaign would get an earlier start. Last night’s news threw cold water on that…
And now it gets worse. Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski worked together on an article for ESPN on Wednesday and revealed that the 2020-21 regular season calendar could be shortened. Some executives expected to see 60 or 65 games maximum take place next campaign.
“As one high-ranking team business executive told ESPN bluntly: “We all realize an 82-game schedule for next season is a pipe dream. It’s just not going to happen.”
One NHL executive told ESPN he anticipated a season of around 60 to 65 games, beginning in mid-to-late January. Another NHL team executive believed 70 games would be the baseline for next season, because that’s a number typically used as a minimum for regional TV contracts — although that number was “more of a guidepost” than a mandatory minimum.”
At first, we were all expecting the 2020-21 campaign to start on December 4th as it was explained by commissioner Gary Bettman when announcing the Return to Play plan. But now, it sounds like it could be weeks, even months later. We suspect that the NHL will possibly want to delay the start of its 2020-21 season as much as possible to allow its teams to safely welcome fans during their local games, in order to earn significant additional income. And it makes sense that it would have an impact on the schedule and the number of games, especially if the NHL wants things to get back to normal in 2021 when the 32nd expansion team, the Seatlle Kraken, gets in the mix.
Let’s see how long fans will have to wait for the next regular season and how short it will be.