NHL, NHLPA Agree on 56-Game Schedule, Start Date for 2020-21 Season

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst I

The Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals NHL hockey club, sits empty Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Washington. The NHL is following the NBA’s lead and suspending its season amid the coronavirus outbreak, the league announced Thursday. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The NHL and NHL Players Association have reached an agreement on a 56-game season, which will start January 13, the league confirmed Sunday.  

The NHL has temporarily realigned the divisions, including putting all Canadian teams into the North Division. The top four teams of each division will make the playoffs, per Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.

Per the NHL, each team will play every other team in its division eight times, while the North division will play every other team "nine or 10 times."

Dan Rosen of NHL.com noted the plan is to play "all games in home arenas" with fans in attendance where local regulations permit. Rosen also noted the league "is prepared to play games in one or more neutral site venues per division should it become necessary."

The NHL also is looking to award the Stanley Cup by "mid-July" to allow for a normal league calendar for the 2021-22 season, per Rosen.

A number of NHL players and prospects remain on loan overseas and will need to return to their NHL markets, including Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl, Detroit Red Wings goalie Calvin Pickard, Minnesota Wild rookie Marco Rossi and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton.

Additionally, many teams have sent eligible players to participate in the 2021 World Junior Championships, which run from Dec. 25 through Jan. 5 and could conflict with training camp dates. 

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