It is official. The 2020-21 NHL season is a go!
We wrote earlier how an announcement on the 2020-21 NHL season appeared imminent, and now we’ve been given the best early Christmas gift with the league confirming plans for the new season.
The season is set to begin on January 13.
— NHL (@NHL) December 20, 2020
After the NHL and the NHLPA came to an agreement, a 56-game regular season will now be played and all the fun begins on Jan. 13, 2021.
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The regular season will conclude on May. 8, 2021 and will be followed by a 16-team Stanley Cup Playoffs in the traditional best-of-seven, four-round format with the hope that a Stanley Cup Champion will be crowned by mid-July.
The top four teams in each Division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the No. 1 seed taking on No. 4 and the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds doing battle in each Division for the first two Rounds. The four teams that make it through to the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals will then be seeded by their regular season points total.
Also confirmed was the fact that teams will begin the season in their own arenas without fans, although that could change depending on the COVID-19 Pandemic and how much damage it may wreak state-by-state.
However, it appears as though the Dallas Stars will be able to welcome up to 5,000 fans back from the first drop of the puck, which is incredibly exciting news and a positive sign for the rest of the league when it comes to eventually filling arenas again.
The Stars will have fans for home games at the American Airlines Center this season, Stars CEO and president Brad Alberts said. Final capacity still to be finalized but could be around 5,000.
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) December 20, 2020
Teams will also have to carry at least three goalies between their roster and the Taxi Squad for the duration of the 2020-21 NHL season.
And, more importantly, we finally learned the full identity of the four new-look Divisions for the 2020-21 NHL season, with the league having to introduce realignment due to the current border issues.
Here they are in all their glory:
Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets.
Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights.
Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals.
I don’t know about you, but I like these Divisions a lot and, in a 56-game season, each Division has the potential to be both a hell of a lot of fun to watch and incredibly competitive too.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 20, 2020
I mean, every single game will count for something in a shortened season and, with teams in the North Division to play each other nine or 10 times, we are already drooling at the thought of all those mouthwatering Battle of Alberta clashes between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers.
Plus, teams in the East, Central and West Divisions will play each other eight times which will only add more spice to certain rivalry games, while I am all in for eight showdowns between two juggernauts and legit Stanley Cup contenders in the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights.
Different can be good sometimes and I think that these new-look Divisions, while for one season only with the NHL hoping that the 2021-22 season will be a more normal and traditional one, will be good for the game of hockey and will help to draw some more eyeballs to the sport we all love.
Training Camps will open on Jan. 3, 2021 while those seven teams who didn’t feature in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks – will be allowed to open their Camps as early as Dec. 31.
So, basically, we are on the brink of getting some actual hockey news in just a few days and it feels amazing.
It has been a long, long wait and, now we finally have the go-ahead, it is time to start getting excited and ready with Opening Night of the 2020-21 NHL season just a few weeks ahead.
We here at Puck Prose will also be getting ready and expect to see our coverage ramped up over the coming days as we get ready for the long-awaited return of NHL hockey!
Christmas is just a few days away but hockey fans and NHL fans in particular have now been granted the ultimate wish – bring on Jan. 13, 2021!