When does the 2021 NHL season start?


After a temporary four-month shutdown to the 2019-2020 NHL season, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in six games to conclude the most unique season in league history. As eyes turn to next season, however, there's still a lot to be decided.

Originally slated for an October start and April end to the 2020-2021 season, the coronavirus pandemic has pushed back the timeline significantly. With more logistical issues than the NBA with teams crossing the United States-Canada border in the 

Here's the latest information on when the 2021 season will start. 

Last reported NHL start date: January 13

Dec. 18: The NHL and NHLPA officially agree on a Jan. 13 start date to the 2021 season. Here are some important key dates in that season calendar and how they impact the Capitals. 

Dec. 8: Clearing financial hurdles, the NHL is eyeing a start date of Jan. 13 to start the 2021 season, according to ESPN's Emily Kaplan. 

Dec. 4: ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported the NHL is now aiming for a mid-January start to the 2021 season, with a schedule ranging from 52 to 56 games "at best." 

Oct. 22: The NHL announced the cancelations of both the 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star games for next season. Still the league maintained that the announcement had no impact on the target date for the NHL's season opener "on or around" New Year's Day. 


Oct. 15: Whether or not fans are able to attend games could be a determining factor in when the season starts. Vegas Golden Knights owner says that if there were no fans, some teams couldn't make it financially. They also have to operate on a condensed timeline with the Olympics taking place in July. 

Oct. 12: Much like the NFL owns Thanksgiving games and the NBA owns Christmas games, the NHL has established itself on New Year's Day. That is part of the reason the league is looking to make Jan. 1 the start of the season. The league is mulling the idea of playing outside at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. The report also says the NHL is considering a regular season of 48 games, 60 games, and the normal 82 games.

Oct. 6: In a move that's been expected for weeks now, the target start date for the NHL season next year has been moved back from Dec. 1 to January 1, according to hockey insider Elliotte Friedman. 

Though this date is in no way final, it does show the growing momentum that hockey in December might have been too wishful thinking.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league started to talk about next season's start dates ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Edmonton, but due to uncertainty from the pandemic, nothing has been finalized.  

“Dec. 1 has always been a notional date. I will not be surprised if it slips into later December, could slip into January,” Bettman said. “But there’s no point right now in making any definitive comments on our plans because there’s still too much we don’t know."

There you have it from the commissioner himself. 

Upcoming 2021 NHL calendar

Here are the reported dates for the upcoming 2021 NHL season, though several are expected to get pushed back. 

NHL Draft: October 6-7, 2020

NHL Free Agency: October 9

NHL Winter Classic: January 1, 2021 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn. (Wild vs. Blues) - CANCELED

NHL All-Star Game: January 30, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida - CANCELED

Check back here for more updates as they become available!