Dec 18 update: The NHL and NHLPA are approaching agreement on a 56-game season, according to Elliotte Freedman. It’s not clear yet when that season would start.
The National Hockey League has not finalized plans for its 2021 season, but Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley said the league is targeting January 13 as the goal for starting the new season, per Justin Emerson.
The league wrapped up its restarted 2019-2020 season with a bubble environment in Edmonton and Toronto. The season concluded with the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Lightning won in six games, clinching the Stanley Cup on September 28th.
A shortened season was always going to be in the cards, and the NHL is also considering bubble and divisional realignment options to bette ensure player and staff health and safety. That all needs to be sorted out before the league can finalize a start date.
The Board of Governors will meet to discuss the options, but January 13th is only five weeks away. There would need to be a training camp of some sort, but there will also be an extended testing period leading up to players gathering in one place. Furthermore, we’ve seen lockdown orders in various counties around the United States impacting sports teams. Most notably, the San Francisco 49ers, San Jose State Spartans, and Stanford Cardinal have all had to relocate operations for at least most of the rest of December due to Santa Clara County imposing new regulations. That would impact the San Jose Sharks.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors will be playing in Tampa, Florida this season due to Canadian restrictions. There is talk of an all-Canada division as part of realignment to deal with that concern. But again, these are all things that need to be finalized before a start date can be agreed upon.