Hockey fans have been sitting at the edge of their seat for new information regarding the 2021 NHL season. With conflicting reports coming in about a potential start date, how many games will be played, salary structure, and a whole book of variables, there was a lot of information being spread about next season that had hockey fans confused.
However, the newest reports coming in indicate that the NHL and NHLPA have begun discussing potential scheduling for next season, with a possible start date of January 13th.
“We are certainly continuing to work through all the issues we would need to resolve to start a season,” Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly said.
Training camp would start on New Year’s Day after NHL players balked at opening talks about the collective bargaining agreement.
Reports say that the two sides (NHL and NHLPA) have moved past financial negotiations after reaching a CBA extension in the summer.
Now the league and Players Association will need to discuss other protocols like scheduling, testing, and any other potential obstacles. One of the main reasons for the stall between last season and the upcoming season was lost revenue.
The league and union agreed to a CBA over the summer. One of the highlights was a 10 percent salary deferral for the 2021 season, as well as a cap on money left in escrow. That agreement remains in place but Commissioner Gary Bettman warned that the 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue could mean players owing owner’s back in the future.
The NHL has been hit hard financially after the removal of fans from attending games. Like many professional sports in North America, the NHL had to defer payments and pay a reduced salary for players to try and mitigate their financial losses as best as possible.
The projected start date of January 13 means the NHL schedule will likely be between 50 and 60 regular-season games before playoffs. There has been no word if the playoffs will be expanded like in the bubble.
Another discussion to be held is the potential realignment of divisions. With the border being closed between Canada and the U.S., Canadian teams would not be allowed to travel to the USA and vice versa.
There have been talks of creating an all-Canadian division that could potentially extend to the second round of the playoffs. Any approval of division realignment would require input from the Board of Governors.
Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley said that he expects teams to be playing in their own buildings, but doesn’t believe fans will be allowed in attendance.
A fully approved and confirmed schedule for the 2021 season should be released in the coming days. With the league pushing against deadlines for January 13th, many factors will need to be approved immediately to get the ball rolling for next season.