NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz on 2020-21 Season, Possible Schedule Changes

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2020

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to members of the media , Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The NHL reportedly plans to move forward with a full 82-game schedule for the 2020-21 season despite the COVID-19 pandemic pushing a planned start date into the winter.

Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reported the NHL "remains focused solely" on playing a full season and could look to compress games into a shorter window. The NHL has not announced formal plans for 2020-21, but it's expected a new season would begin in December or January.

Games are scheduled to resume later in July at two yet-to-be-announced "hub" cities, where players will be placed in a so-called bubble to ensure their safety. It is expected that Canadian cities Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, will serve as the two sites.

The NHL's lack of formal announcement is at odds with other major professional sports leagues, as MLB and the NBA both had plans in place well ahead of their announced returns. The NBA will "bubble" its teams in Orlando, Florida, while MLB is planning a regional schedule at the teams' home ballparks to limit travel.

Discussions regarding next season are well off in the distance for the NHL, which has to focus on completing 2019-20 before looking forward. Both the NBA and NHL will likely hope the pandemic is quelled enough to hold their 2020-21 seasons under normal circumstances, though the United States' failure to halt the spread of the disease complicates matters.

It's possible that the disease has reached a point that "normal" life, in which fans can attend sporting events again, may not be feasible in the country until a vaccine is approved.

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