Sharks could be looking at totally different 2020-21 season

USA Today

By Nov. 13 last year, the Sharks were 19 games into the 2019-20 NHL season.

But with the coronavirus pandemic throwing everything off schedule, they likely won't play their 19th game of the 2020-21 NHL season until sometime in February.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly spoke to The Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday and reiterated that the league is aiming to start the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1, 2021.

So it really wouldn't be a 2020-21 season, but actually a 2021 season.

Based on the Jan. 1 target, Daly told The Inquirer that training camps would open in mid-December and the goal is to wrap up the 2021 Stanley Cup Final in mid-July.

On Thursday, TSN's Pierre LeBrun and ESPN's Greg Wyshynski reported that the league was considering a 48-to-60 game season, and that divisions could be realigned for one season to limit travel during the pandemic. Daly confirmed both ideas are on the table.

Because there's no travel between Canada and the United States right now, the seven Canadian teams likely would make up their own division.

Based on a quick look at a map, we can guess that the Sharks would form a seven-team division with the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Vegas Golden Knights, Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

The NHL could create more than four divisions and remove Colorado and Dallas from a hypothetical Sharks' group, cutting down on longer flights for the California teams.


Daly also confirmed to The Inquirer that the schedule, whether 48 or 60 games, would have teams likely playing a series of games against one opponent in a select city, just like a baseball schedule. So the Sharks could travel to Los Angeles and play the Kings three or four times, then go to Anaheim and play the Ducks several times.

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The pandemic is forcing everyone to adjust and adapt, including the NHL. Most of these proposals are radical, but they are what the league needs to do to get through a season while limiting players' exposure to the virus and avoiding postponements.

The Sharks haven't played a game since March 11 -- eight months. You know the players are itching to get back on the ice, no matter the season format, opponent or location.