When the NHL announced the hockey season would resume following a postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic, it also stated a tentative start date of Dec. 1 for the 2020-21 campaign. With the United States still very much dealing with COVID-19 and the situation very uncertain, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman isn't so sure next season will begin at the start of December.
According to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, Bettman revealed in his annual state of the league address ahead of the Stanley Cup Final between the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning that the 2020-21 season could begin as late as January.
Gary Bettman says he won't be surprised if the 2020-21 NHL season starts later in December or in January.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 19, 2020
Bettman also said the league has begun to think about options for next season, but nothing has been agreed upon as of September.
Rumors have begun to circulate that the league could have more than two host cities for the 2020-21 season, indicating a potential bubble format. While Edmonton and Toronto very well could host teams again, other areas of the United States could be used as bubbles also.
With Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final set for Saturday night, the latest the current season could wrap up is Sept. 30. The offseason will then get underway with the NHL Draft set to take place Oct. 6-7 and free agency opening on Oct. 9.