NHL considering mid-January start, 56-game season: reports

The NHL is now considering a mid-January start date for an abbreviated 56-game regular season, multiple outlets reported Friday.

The league and NHL Players’ Association discussed multiple options for the upcoming campaign Thursday night.

The Jan. 1 start date both sides had been shooting for is no longer realistic given the time needed for training camp and other preparations. TSN reported that Jan. 15 or 16 is a more likely target, with the NHL looking to wrap up the Stanley Cup Final by early July.

A 52-game season was discussed, but sources told The Athletic, which CBC Sports has not independently verified, that both sides would prefer 56 games for obvious revenue reasons.

Training camps for all 31 teams would begin around Jan. 2.

There are still several financial issues that need to be worked out. Surges in COVID-19 numbers could also force further delays to the calendar.

The 2019-20 NHL season was interrupted in March by the pandemic. The hockey season eventually was completed over the summer in two bubble locations: Edmonton and Toronto.

The Stanley Cup Finals concluded Sept. 28 with the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Dallas Stars in six games.

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