The National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association reached an agreement to start a 56-game regular season on Jan. 13, down from the traditional 82-game regular season.
Like other sports, the NHL was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic last season. The league paused its season in March and restarted in August, with most teams returning to play in bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto. The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t hoist the Stanley Cup until Sept. 28.
For 2021-22, the league and players said they intend to return to a “normal” season that would begin in October as in year’s past.
NBCUniversal is in the last year of its contract to carry the NHL regular season and the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN is apparently interested in bidding for the rights to show NHL games.
“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.
“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,” Bettman said.
“The Players are pleased to have finalized agreements for the upcoming season, which will be unique but also very exciting for the fans and Players alike,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA executive director. “During these troubled times, we hope that NHL games will provide fans with some much needed entertainment as the players return to the ice.”
The NHL will realign its teams into four divisions, one, the North division, consisting entirely of its Canadian teams.
The top four teams of each division will make the playoffs.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.