The Sharks' season reportedly could begin in mid-January and last as long as 56 games.
The NHL asked the NHL Players Association about beginning next season in the middle of January for the first time Thursday, TSN's Frank Seravalli reported Friday morning, citing sources.
The NHL had been targeting a Jan. 1 start to the season, but the league and NHLPA have not yet agreed to terms. Deferred salaries remain a sticking point between the two sides, but The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun wrote Friday he thinks the players "will finally be willing to come back and defer a bit more salary" than the 10 percent they agreed to for this season when the collective bargaining agreement was extended this summer.
If the season begins in mid-January, LeBrun reported, citing sources with the league and the NHLPA, that all 31 training camps would start around Jan. 2. It's not "100 percent" that the Sharks and six other teams who didn't participate in the restarted season this summer and fall will get an extra week of training camp as they requested and the league wants, as "both sides need to figure that out."
If the Sharks were able to conduct an extra week of training camp, they would begin in late December. That would require them holding camp outside of Santa Clara County, which banned all contact sports last week in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Subsequent orders could require them to leave the Bay Area altogether for training camp.
The Sharks operate rinks in Oakland and Fremont, but Alameda County joined Santa Clara County, Contra Costa County, San Mateo County, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley in enacting the state's shelter-in-place order for counties with a capacity of ICU beds below 15 percent. The Bay Area has not crossed that threshold yet, but public health officials warned that the region will soon.
The Warriors reportedly are able to conduct training camp and play games at Chase Center during the order, which begins on Dec. 6 and ends no earlier than Jan. 4. San Francisco doesn't have a ban on contact sports, and requires all college and professional teams to submit safety protocols for approval.
If coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue increasing along worrisome trajectories, the NHL season reportedly could start later than January. LeBrun wrote Friday that "[the] pandemic could still force a further delay and start into February."
The Sharks last played in a game on March 11, losing 6-2 to Chicago a day before the NHL season was suspended. Just over 10 months will have passed between then and the reportedly possible mid-January start of next season.