Gary Bettman: NHL Targeting January 1 Start Date for Next Season

Bettman said the league is hoping for a full 82-game season with fans in attendance

Gary Bettman: NHL Targeting January 1 Start Date for Next Season
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman prepares for the first round of the 2020 draft.
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Speaking before the 2020 NHL draft, commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is targeting January 1 as the start date for what it hopes will be a full 82-game season with fans in attendance.

“We really haven’t focused precisely on what we’re going to be doing next season,” Bettman said on NHL Network before the draft. “I think it’s fairly clear that while Dec. 1 has always been a notional date, we’re focused on the fact that we’re really looking now at January 1 to start the season up. Our hope is to have a full season, full regular season, and to have fans in the building, but there are a lot of things that have to transpire, many of which if not most of which are beyond our control before we can finalize our plans.”

In order to make that happen, the league will begin negotiating with the NHLPA about health and safety protocols for the new season following the opening of free agency on Friday.

After playing a two-month postseason in isolation in two locations in Canada to finish last season, the union would reportedly like to avoid returning to bubble campuses.

Another issue for next season could be the ongoing closure of the U.S.-Canada border for nonessential business, but a potential fix could be the establishment of an all-Canadian division.

In related NHL news, the New York Rangers selected 18-year-old Alexis Lafreniere of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic with the first pick in Tuesday’s draft.

Picking third, the Ottawa Senators selected German center Tim Stutzle and had a surprise guest announce their draft pick: Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek.

NHL teams are allowed to open their facilities for offseason training starting on October 15.

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