Blackhawks

How realignment, reduced schedules could shape NHL season

Blackhawks

On Tuesday, Nick Cotsonika of NHL.com reported that a reduced schedule, temporary realignment and short-term hubs are being looked into for the 2020-2021 season.

Per Cotsonika, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he wouldn't ask players to go back to a bubble for an entire year. The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs saw the Stanley Cup awarded to the Tampa Bay Lightning after using hub cities Edmonton and Toronto for the postseason.

Instead, Bettman is considering having teams play in their home arenas. Similar to the Return To Play plan that brought the NHL out of the pause and saw the playoffs to completion, the league and the NHL Players' Association would have to agree to a plan for next season before things moved forward.

Bettman also stated that if teams play in hubs, they'll rotate in and out.

"You'll play for 10 to 12 days," Bettman said in a virtual panel discussion during the 2020 Paley International Council Summit. "You'll play a bunch of games without traveling. You'll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We'll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need. "It's not going to be quite as effective as a bubble, but we think we can, if we go this route, minimize the risks to the extent practical and sensible. And so that's one of the things that we're talking about."

The NHL is targeting a Jan. 1 start date for the 2020-21 season.

 
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