By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter @andrewtaverna
The NHL and NHLPA announced Sunday afternoon that the 2020-21 season is a go. There has been a lot of speculation around whether the NHL could pull off a modified season during the global pandemic, and it would appear after today, we’re looking at a 56 game season.
The upcoming season would contain several adjustments, including player opt-outs, re-aligned divisions, and a condensed schedule allowing for only 56 regular-season games with a different playoff format.
Player Options and Opt-Outs
According to Elliot Friedman on Twitter, players have been given until December 24th to opt-out for non-playoff teams and December 27th for playoff teams.
Some new key dates: Opt-out deadline is Dec. 24 for non-playoff teams, Dec. 27 for playoff teams. Group II RFAs must be signed by Feb. 11 to play this season (usually Dec. 1). And, players on one-year deals can extend on March 12 (usually Jan. 1).— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 19, 2020
Players who opt-out for “personal” reasons would not receive their NHL salaries, and teams could decide to “toll” their contracts. Tolling a contract means the team can decide that the player’s contract could be rolled into the next season if the player decides to opt-out for the season. Players who opt-out of the season due to medical reasons as defined by a medical team would still receive payment for the upcoming season, should they choose to opt-out.
Re-Alignment Of Divisions
There are still a few details to be worked out with Canada’s health authorities, but it has been decided the league will be broken into four new divisions for this upcoming season. The North, West, Central, and East divisions will all play each other during the season and face off as many as nine or ten times. The Bruins will be placed in the East division with Buffalo, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers, Philidelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington. In their division, it is likely they’ll see each opponent up to eight times. You can read my thoughts on that new division in a piece I wrote a few weeks ago.
A Shortened Seasons With A New Playoff Format
The agreement between the NHL and NHLPA is for a 56 game season that would start on January 13th and end in early May. Once the regular season is complete, the top four teams from each division would face off in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Once the semi-finals arrive, it is yet to be decided how the teams would play, but it’s fair to assume it might include some sort of bubble situation depending on the pandemic’s status. The last possible day the playoffs could go would be July 15th, 2021.
It’s going to be an unprecedented season, so be sure to follow BNG for all your latest Bruins news.