The 2020-21 season was always going to be a weird one for the NHL. Covid-19 not only shortened the previous season, but it also pushed back the post-season making the regular start to the season all but impossible. And even if the players were willing to forgo the rest and recovery time and start in October there were still plenty of questions about the logistics.
Initially, the NHL said that they would be looking to complete a full 82-game season. That seemed less and less likely as time moved on. Yesterday, Elliotte Friedman tweeted out that the NHL and the NHLPA have reached a tentative deal for a 56-game season, which has since been confirmed.
It is now official with details emerging. Games will start January 13, the tradeline will be April 12, the final game of regulation will be May 8. The upcoming Seattle draft will be July 21, with the Entry Draft taking place on July 23 and 24.
Key for Coyotes fans may be the entry-level slide for rookies. It has reduced from 10 games to 7, something that may impact Coyotes rookies like Victor Söderström or Jan Jeník.
The NHL has had shortened seasons before, with the two major instances being the 1994 and 2012 lockouts which shortened the season to 48 games.
With this shortened schedule we are also seeing a temporary reconfiguration of the conferences with an All Canada Division and a modified west Division with the Coyotes getting the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, and the St. Louis Blues. The Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks will be playing in the North Division.
The last postseason was the best that anyone could expect. The strict security at the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles positive cases at zero. It doesn't look like that same hub setup will be used for the upcoming season, though hopefully, the NHL will work hard to make sure that everyone is safe.
Update: Article previously stated the Dallas Stars would be playing in the West Division.