NHL returning Jan. 13 with 56-game schedule, realigned divisions

Dylan Larkin
Posted at 3:57 PM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-20 15:57:54-05

The NHL announced it is returning on Jan. 13 with a special 56-game schedule and realigned divisions.

The league and the NHL Players' Association agreed to the 56-game regular season on Sunday. It will conclude May 8, and was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The National Hockey League looks forward to the opening of our 2020-21 season, especially since the Return to Play in 2019-20 was so successful in crowning a Stanley Cup champion," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "While we are well aware of the challenges ahead, as was the case last spring and summer, we are continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and play. And, as was the case last spring and summer, I thank the NHLPA, particularly Executive Director Don Fehr, for working cooperatively with us to get our League back on the ice."

Training camps will open Jan. 3 and there will be no pre-season games. The seven teams that didn't participate in the NHL's return to play, including the Detroit Red Wings, can open training camps as early as Dec. 31.

As part of the agreement, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will feature 16 teams in the best-of-seven, four-round format that will end mid-July with plans for a return to normal hockey in 2021-22 with the season starting in October.

Also, the realigned divisions will include one division with the Canada-based teams, and games will be played within realigned divisions only. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The teams the Red Wings' Central division are: Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning.