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NHL Finalizes Plans for 2021 Season

The NHL and NHLPA have put the finishing touches on a return to play

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals - Game One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After coming to a preliminary agreement a few days ago on plans for the new season, the NHL and NHLPA have officially signed off on plans to start the 2021 campaign on January 13.

Here’s the rundown:

  • As expected, the season will be shorter than usual - just 56 games, with the regular season coming to a close on May 8.
  • Training camps will get underway January 3 (with the seven teams not participating in this past summer’s playoffs starting as early as December 31), and teams will have to be ready to go 10 days later without the aid of exhibition games.
  • Due to travel restrictions and in an attempt to minimize travel in general, teams will be separated into four new divisions (North, East, Central and West) and be limited to just intradivisional play.
  • The Caps will join the Bruins, Sabres, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, and Penguins in the new East Division, facing each of those teams eight times over the course of the season.
  • The top four teams in each division will make the playoffs, with the first two rounds of the postseason staying in the division. Teams advancing past the semifinals will be reseeded based on their point total from the regular season.
  • Teams will play in their home arenas where allowed, although without fans (at least initially), but can be moved to a neutral location as needed.

Lots to do and not much time in which to do it - stay tuned for additional dates and information on the new season as it becomes available!