For hockey fans, 2021 is about to get even more exciting. Back in December, the National Hockey League approved a 56-game schedule, rather than the typical 82-game schedule, for the 2020-21 season, with the first faceoff of the season on Wednesday, Jan. 13. The normal sixteen-team playoff begins on Saturday, May 8, when the Stanley Cup will be lifted again before the start of the NHL draft in mid-July.
While the new season is officially underway, many things will remain similar to the 2019-20 season, as COVID-19 remains a public health issue. While there is yet to be confirmation from the NHL, it is safe to assume that the league may be similar to the NFL when considering fan attendance. Each team and arena can likely make their own decision regarding fan attendance, local ordinances permitting.
The Dallas Stars were one of the first teams to announce they will allow fans at the arena, as consistent with local guidelines and social distancing measures. However, as of Saturday, Jan. 8, the Dallas Stars were the first team to announce multiple confirmed cases of COVID-19, putting the early games of the season in jeopardy. The NHL is hopeful that the season will continue with little to no issues and continues discussing the prospect of a closed Canadian border. “The League and the Players also sought to minimize team travel as much as possible by shifting to exclusively interdivisional play,” the NHL and the NHLPA announced.
With or without fans, this season is shaping up to be an interesting one to watch. A condensed season and interdivisional play means even more competition and higher stakes when rivals meet once again. Fans are also in for a special treat as retro jerseys are back with inspiration drawn from classic jerseys that hold significance for each team. This announcement makes history as it will be the first time all 31 teams are producing an alternate jersey. For those who are interested in purchasing a retro team jersey, they can be found on the NHL Shop website.
Once the Stanley Cup wraps up, the approved 32nd NHL team known as The Seattle Kraken will begin shaping their team on Wednesday, July 21. Following that is the 59th NHL entry draft, which will occur July 23-24 after the announcement that the draft will be delayed due to the ongoing pandemic. This season is building up to be something like no other with rivalry games adding even more tension and retro jerseys taking center ice. Stay tuned to this 2020-21 season to see if the Colorado Avalanche will stay true to their projected Stanley Cup win.