With the NBA beginning it’s camp and preseason games this week, the pressure was beginning to mount for the National Hockey League to figure out the issues that stood in the way of having a 2020-21 season. Now, as reports start to trickle out, the NHL and the NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement on a 56-game schedule that will start with training camps opening January 3rd and games being played beginning on the 13th.
There is word tonight NHL & NHLPA have tentative deal on 56-game season.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 19, 2020
The league will once again go with four divisions with an All-Canadian group still the likely scenario. From each division, the top four teams will make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup. Per The Fourth Period, here are the proposed divisions:
Canadian: CGY, EDM, MTL, TOR, OTT, VAN, WPG
Atlantic: BOS, BUF, NJ, NYI, NYR, PHI, PIT, WAS
Central: CAR, CBJ, DET, CHI, DAL, FLA, NAS, TB
Pacific: ANA, AZ, COL, LA, MIN, SJ, STL, VGK
This includes creation of 4-6 man taxi squad. All 29 players (max) will travel and practice with NHL team. Taxi squad is paid full AHL salary. CBA has been expanded to include for more flexible emergency recalls
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 19, 2020
The NHLPA’s board will meet on Friday to vote on the deal with the league’s Board of Governors expected to do the same. There are still details to work out, mainly the protocols when it comes to the traveling of the Canadien teams. In addition, it is unknown, at this time, whether the league will use hub cities or teams will be able to play in their home arena.
One thing seems clear, unlike following the 2004 season, it looks as though the Tampa Bay Lightning will be able to defend their Stanley Cup Championship in the very next season.