NHL’s Daly: 2020-21 Season Could Take On A Different Form

NHL's Daly: 2020-21 Season Could Take On A Different Form

The start date for the 2020-21 NHL season remains fluid as the COVID-19 situation remains unpredictable. The league owners, however, are hoping to play a full 82-game schedule in “different form” with January 1 as a start date.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly, via NHL’s official news site, admitted that the next season could take on a different form.

“The goal is still to start as early as Jan. 1 and to play a full season. Having said that, we also recognize, depending on a host of different things, that it could take a different form and we might not be playing a full season, we might not be playing into the summer, we might not be starting on Jan. 1. So there’s still a lot of uncertainty,” Daly said in an interview.

By different form, he means every little aspect of the league. It could mean a shortened season, temporary realignment, transfer of location, half-capacity fan attendance, etc. Travel and logistic issues could arise due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so Daly is certain that the league has no power to return to normal operations anytime soon.

It should be pointed out that the NHL does not plan to use a full-season bubble format. According to the league’s chief medical officer, it’s risky and not ideal for large-sized teams. The league is now looking for alternatives to host a complete season, and there has been talk of an all-Canadian division with a “hybrid bubble”.

Aside from the actual live games, there are several other variables at play. The NHL needs to consider testing availability, travel, and fan attendance next season before coming up with a tournament format.

In the meantime, fans are encouraged to wait for more updates and celebrate the crowning of Tampa Bay Lightning as the new Stanley Cup champions. The NHL has already postponed the 2021 Winter Classic, which was set to take place on New Year’s Day in Minnesota, as well as the 2021 All-Star Game in Florida. The estimated start date for training camps will be announced at a later date, along with the final start date for the 2020-21 season.