As of now, training camp for the 2020-21 season is set to begin in early November with regular season games beginning on December 1. Fortunately for Capitals fans that’s not far off in the grand scheme of things. But what will next season actually look like? Here’s what we know as of right now.
The NHL has been steadfast in saying that the 2020-21 season will have a full 82-game schedule. The reasoning is predominantly financial in nature. The season will be compressed with no All-Star break and will likely end in July of next summer.
Unfortunately, it looks like the season will at least begin with no fans in the stands. How long that goes is still an unknown. Eventually the league will likely phase-in fans, starting with a low percentage of capacity, say 15-20%. Local restrictions with regards to large gatherings will drive this.
The bubble approach may be gone. Teams will most likely return to traveling for away games, a big leap versus the bubble operations implemented for the 2020 Playoffs. However, there is late indication that the league is looking at potentially expanding bubble scheme.
Hearing the NHL and PA have had preliminary talks about next season. One proposal is to create 4 bubble cities, and rotating all 31 teams in those venues in 8 game increments.
At present, there’s no indication if all the cities would be in Canada.
But makes the most sense.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) August 24, 2020
Maybe the greatest indicator to watch is Major League Baseball and the National Football Leagues. Both are operating or will operate without a protective bubble, and are/will be traveling to opposing teams stadiums to play games. Keep an eye on those leagues, as they will probably foretell what next season will look like for the NHL.
As mentioned in a post from yesterday, the salary cap will remain at $81.5 million for the 2020-2021 season.
Key Dates (Tentative)
Dates provided by the NHL are current, but general, and may shift a day or two in either direction. All dates are subject to change.
9/20 – Stanley Cup Final begins
10/4 – Stanley Cup awarded
10/6 – NHL Entry Draft
11/1 – Free agency opens
11/17 – Training camp begins
12/1 – 2020-21 season begins
A lot can change between now and December 1. Stay tuned.
By Jon Sorensen