Cue The Zamboni’s, Hockey Is Set To Return By: Ryan Kelsey
Photo by Dan Fwenandez
On Friday National Hockey League deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed that both the NHL and the players association (NHLPA) came to an agreement on a 56-game season with hockey players set to hit the ice on January 13th. The start of the new season is not finalized yet until there are approvals from executive boards of each party, and Canadian health officials but these approvals can be agreed upon as soon as this weekend. One of the things that has been agreed upon by the NHL and the players association is that there will be 23-man rosters with an $81.5 million salary cap.
Although there remains unknown factors about the upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic like if teams would play at their home arenas or in a bubble format, there are some key start dates that fans can look forward to. Beginning on December 31, teams that did not play in last season's bubble playoff format can start their training camp, and just a few short days later on January 3rd, the rest of the NHL teams will lace up their skates and begin their training camp. Despite training camps set to begin in the upcoming weeks, pre-season exhibition games are not expected to take place prior to the season kicking off.
Last season was unlike any other before because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The 2019 - 2020 season started on October 2nd, and finished nearly a year later on September 28th, as a result of the NHL taking a cautionary timeout in the middle of the season when the virus was making its way across the nation. When the league decided to put activities on hold, there were still 189 games remaining in the season.
The season was paused on March 12th and did not resume until August 1st, but instead of playing the remaining 189 games left of the season, the league decided to jump right into the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in order to determine the seeds for the playoffs. There were seven teams who did not make the playoffs, and the other 24 teams, 12 from the Eastern Conference and 12 from the Western Conference, were determined by points percentage when the season was put on hold. At the end of the season, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning who were crowned the champions after defeating the Dallas Stars in game six of a best of seven series.
Now, with the holidays right around the corner, hockey fans can have a jolly and joyful spirit while looking ahead to a new season, and have hope that their favorite team will not receive coal, but rather the Stanley Cup at the end of the season.