NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says the league’s goal is still for 2020-21 is still for a normal 82-game season. With the 2019-20 season pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, how next season will work is still very much up in the air. 

It is not yet know if a full season would be possible, but Daly said it is still their intention.

He said (via The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside):

“I think there are always ways to play. I think what you choose to do in terms of playing is really the more complicated question. How do you put on a season? We remain certainly intent on trying to have an 82-game regular season. Whether that’s possible or not is yet to be seen.”

In a year that’s been full of uncertainties, right now there is more of the same. 

“I think we’d be foolish not to take advantage of the lead time we have to make the best decisions we can make,” Daly said. “I do believe we’re going to have a season, I just can’t tell you what it looks like right now.”

They are not dismissing any possibilities for next year, including more summer hockey.

“If anything was proven this summer, it’s that having three games a day in these facilities in the heart of August wasn’t problematic,” Daly said. “A lot of people thought we’d be playing on wet surfaces, but that didn’t transpire. The ice held up, the ice quality is generally good. So, playing in the summer is not a problem for us.”

December 1 was being thrown around as a possible start date for the season, which typically begins in October. This year, the draft is now planned for October, as the Stanley Cup Finals are set to conclude no later than October 4.

Daly said the start for next year could be pushed back even later than December 1.

“What I’d say to that is that it really almost entirely depends on what it is we decide to do, and how we’re going to approach it,” he said. “If I had to handicap it today, it’s probably less likely than more that we would start on Dec. 1. But that’s not set in stone by any means.”

The ability to successfully carry out the NHL postseason this year has been thanks to the “bubble” and we might see bubbles next year as well. Daly said it’s not out of the question to put teams in bubbles for the 2020-21 regular season.

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