BOSTON (CBS) — There will be NHL hockey in the near future. On Sunday, the NHL and the NHLPA announced a 56-game 2020-21 season that will begin on January 13.
The agreement is pending a vote by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA.
“The National Hockey League looks forward to the opening of our 2020-21 season, especially since the Return to Play in 2019-20 was so successful in crowning a Stanley Cup champion,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a release. “While we are well aware of the challenges ahead, as was the case last spring and summer, we are continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and play. And, as was the case last spring and summer, I thank the NHLPA, particularly Executive Director Don Fehr, for working cooperatively with us to get our League back on the ice.”
Hockey has been on hold as the NHL and Players’ Association figured out a way to safely proceed with a season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The NHL has not played since Sept. 28, when the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The 2020-21 season is set to conclude on May 8, with the Stanley Cup Playoffs remaining the same. The postseason will still feature 16 teams in the traditional best-of-seven, four-round format, and is set to conclude around mid-July. The plan is to return to a “normal” hockey calendar for the 2021-22 season, with an October start.
In addition to a shortened regular season in 2020-21, teams will only play opponents within their realigned division.
There are now four divisions throughout the league, including a seven-team division with all of the teams based in Canada. The Boston Bruins are in the East Division, along with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
The NHL and NHLPA will release the Health and Safety Protocols, transition rules and critical dates calendar as well as the 2020-21 schedule in the coming days.