(AP) — The National Hockey League and players reached a tentative deal Friday to hold a 56-game season in 2021, pending the approval of each side’s executive board and Canadian health officials.
The season would start Jan. 13. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the sides have an agreement, pending the approval of various executive boards.
The NHL Players’ Association’s board is meeting Friday night to discuss it, while the league’s Board of Governors could vote on the plan soon. Approval from health officials in the five Canadian provinces that have teams is still needed before the NHL can go ahead with the season.
Training camps for the seven non-playoff teams would open Dec. 31 and then Jan. 3 for the other 24 teams. It’s unclear whether teams would play in their home arenas or in “hub” cities, though an all-divisional schedule is expected.
Exhibition games aren’t expected to be included in the leadup to the new season. Sportsnet in Canada first reported the tentative agreement.
The NHL, like the NBA, finished its previous season in a quarantined bubble — two of them, one each in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta. Commissioner Gary Bettman awarded the Stanley Cup to the Tampa Bay Lightning in late September.
Owners and players agreed to a long-term extensive of the collective bargaining agreement before the 2019-20 season resumed, setting the table for financial ramifications of the pandemic. They agreed recently to stick to that deal, which includes players deferring 10% of salaries, a cap on money paid into escrow and a flat $81.5 million cap.
The NHL follows the NBA in moving toward another regular season. The basketball season opens Tuesday.