Report: NHL pushes back best-case start date scenario to Jan. 1

Justin Cuthbert
·1-min read
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 28: A general view of the face off to start the third period of Game Six of the NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars at Rogers Place on September 28, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
The NHL won't return in 2020. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

It seems the best-case scenario for the 2020-21 NHL season is no longer an option.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is reporting that Jan. 1 is the new target date for the start of the NHL season, replacing the initial Dec. 1 timetable as the league prepares to return, once again, amid a global pandemic.

Friedman notes that this isn’t a firm date, and that the season may not start until well beyond New Year’s Day, but simply that the NHL is now working from a new reference point while making plans for the start of the season that will live outside a controlled bubble setting.

There are a few factors that impact the NHL more than other leagues, including the ongoing uncertainty with cross-border travel and how that will impact the seven Canadian teams. But maybe the important consideration for the league, which depends heavily on gate revenue, is reaching a point where it can have at least some fan presence at games.

It’s still expected that the NHL will have an 82-game season in 2021 despite the obvious time crunch. That means the NHL calendar will remain out of its normal position and that hockey will be played deep into the summer months once again.

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