The NHL announced Wednesday that the 2020-21 regular season is scheduled to begin Jan. 13 with plans to play a shortened 56-game campaign.
Here's a look at each team's season-opening contest from the schedule release:
The Tampa Bay Lightning captured the franchise's second championship with a triumph over the Dallas Stars in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. That series ended Sept. 28 after the season was delayed for more than four months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
At least for one more season, the pandemic's effects will continue to be felt, as the league realigned its divisions in order to accommodate a Canada-only grouping:
The late finish also forced the NHL to rework its calendar for 2020-21, including a cancellation of the 2021 All-Star Game. Here's a look at the key dates:
- Opening Night: Jan. 13
- All-Star Weekend: Canceled
- Trade Deadline: April 12
- Regular Season Ends: May 8
- 2021 Playoffs Begin: May 11
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman explained ahead of the Stanley Cup Final that the league was turning over every stone with the goal of getting back to "as great a sense of normalcy as possible" next season.
"If there's an option to consider, believe me, we're considering it," Bettman told reporters. "It's conceivable that we start without fans, that we move to socially distant fans at some point and by some point in time maybe our buildings are open."
He also discussed the financial realities of the situation after the remainder of the 2019-20 season was played in a bubble format without fans in attendance.
"While we know it'll be less [money], we know there's a substantial revenue impact," Bettman said. "I'm comfortable that our franchises will be strong enough to weather this. Our franchises will get through this and will come out stronger on the other side."
The announcement of a start date will be particularly for the seven NHL teams that didn't qualify for the league's restart plan. They haven't played a game since early March.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is likely to head into its title defense as the championship favorite once again.