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NHL, NHLPA aim to start next season on Jan. 1

NHL, NHLPA aim to start next season on Jan. 1

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 09: An NHL logo is seen prior to a game between the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks on January 9, 2020, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After batting around the idea of starting the 2020-21 season as early as December, the NHL and NHLPA put forth a more realistic start date of next season as Jan. 1, 2021. (One might note that there’s not much “2020" to that 2020-21 season, but plenty of business will take place. As you’ll see beginning with the 2020 NHL Draft.)

“It was just over a week ago that we celebrated the successful completion of our 2019-20 return to play with the crowning of the Tampa Bay Lightning as Stanley Cup champions,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday. “Based upon what we have learned and what we know and what we still don’t know, I can say that we are now focused on a Jan. 1 start for next season.”

From a marketing perspective, Jan. 1, 2021 makes a lot of sense to start the next NHL season.

For one thing, plenty of hockey fans associate Jan. 1 with the Winter Classic. Beyond that, the NHL could use marketing such as “New Year, New Season.”

Of course, the NHL aiming for a Jan. 1 start date doesn’t mean that will happen. If the past week of world news reminded us of anything, it’s that COVID-19 can strike just about anyone.

The NHL announced that the start date for training camps has yet to be determined. Early on, reports indicate that the bubble won’t return for 2020-21, at least in the form it took during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But who knows, really?

Here’s hoping that the NHL can begin its next season on Jan. 1, 2021 as proposed, and that the world is in a safe state for such a 2020-21 season.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.