NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that on January 1 he plans to launch his 2020/21 campaign as the competition hopes to have a full schedule with fans attending.
The news, also decided by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association, was revealed ahead of the virtual draught of the competition and sees the tournament push forward its tentative December 1 re-opening date.
Bettman declared: “We really haven’t focused precisely on what we’re going to be doing next season. I think it’s fairly clear that while December 1 has always been a notional date, we’re focused on the fact that we’re really looking now at January 1 to start the season up.
“Our hope is to have a full season, full regular season, and to have fans in the building, but there are a lot of things that have to transpire, many of which if not most of which are beyond our control before we can finalize our plans.”
The initial plan for the resumption of the NHL was to start in December, with training camps scheduled to open on November 17. However, it has not been disclosed when training camps will operate with the latest modifications.
The NHL’s 2019/20 campaign suffered from delays, restrictions and COVID-19 restrictions due to the global health pandemic, which resulted in fans not attending their playoffs. In order to go into the playoffs, the competition chose to restart its tournament with a ‘Stanley Cup Qualifiers’ format in which 12 teams from each conference competed in separate stadium hubs.
On September 28, the NHL season concluded as the Tampa Bay Lightning came out victorious. Overall, with the completion of his campaign, Bettman praised all involved, highlighting how impressive it was to run the tournament safely.
He added: “The key was clearly the collaboration and cooperation we got from everybody, starting with the players and the players’ association, all of our clubs and particularly the owners in the NHL.
“We all had to work together if we were going to make this a reality, and it’s something that we and the players very much wanted to do. The players wanted to complete the season they started, but most importantly, we heard from our fans that they wanted us to complete the season as well, and that’s what it was all about.”