Hockey is (tentatively) back!
Amanda Stein reported yesterday on the Devils’ official app that the NHL and NHLPA have “reached a tentative plan for the 56-game 2020-21 season, which would begin on January 13, 2021.” This is sourced from an NHL.com article.
The tentative “agreement is pending a vote by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA.”
Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Wednesday that “We are focused on starting at some point hopefully in mid-January.” He continued “… It is clear that we will not be playing an 82-game schedule for the regular season, which we normally do, but we’re going to try and play as many games as possible.”
The league will, of course, be doing the temporary realignment for this season, with the seven Canadian teams in an all-Canadian Division. This is due to travel restrictions between the United States and Canada brought on by COVID-19.
This problem has been faced by both MLB (the Toronto Blue Jays) and the NBA (the Toronto Raptors) who have had to find temporary homes for their Canadian clubs. Luckily for the NHL (and Canadians, who do not have to see their teams playing on American rinks), the NHL has seven teams, allowing them to do this.
The Devils could be in a division that would possibly include most of the Metropolitan Division teams, plus two Atlantic Division opponents in the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres. This comes from NHL Network’s NHL Tonight this past week when the hosts were discussing the possible realignment and return to play options.
The Devils themselves, according to Stein, have not played since March 10, 2020. She mentions that 10 months have passed since that game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hopefully by mid-January, hockey will be back full-time!