NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHLPA are already making plans for next season. Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

NHL reportedly aiming for full 82-game 2020-21 season

The NHL and NHLPA have yet to finalize a deal for Phases 3 and 4 of their return-to-play-plan, but it appears they're already discussing the 2020-21 season.

According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, the NHL is focused on having a full, 82-game campaign next season despite a delayed start.

Phase 3 of the NHL's return-to-play plan is set to get underway on July 10 with full training camps, provided a deal is reached, and Phase 4 has yet to be determined. However, it's expected that games get underway sometime in August. 

According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the two NHL hub cities will be Edmonton and Toronto. This, of course, means that Western Conference teams will play in Edmonton and Eastern Conference teams will be competing in Toronto.

The NHL playing all games in Canada seems like a no-brainer for the league. According to quanthockey.com, 413 players or 42.6 percent are Canadian — most by nationality in the league — while just 253 players (26.1 percent) are American.

Many of the league's top stars also are natives of Canada, including Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Patrice Bergeron, Nathan MacKinnon, Taylor Hall and so many others — the list is lengthy. Many of them reside in Canada during the offseason, so playing in their home country would be rather special.

Edmonton made a strong push to be the Canadian host and has even proposed an Olympic village-style setup for teams. Oilers Entertainment Group provided details last week about its proposal, including safety protocols and leisure activities for players, according to TSN's Ryan Rishaug.

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment also have proposed a campus-like "bubble" similar to Edmonton's.

Players would have access to many facilities, including BMO Field, Coca-Cola Coliseum (home of the AHL's Toronto Marlies), the Toronto Raptors' practice facility and Hotel X, which has 400 rooms, according to LeBrun. MLSE would be willing to add other features such as food trucks and an outdoor movie theater.

Erin Walsh is a Boston sports fan through and through. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bridgewater State University and currently is in pursuit of her Master's Degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Follow her on Twitter @ewalsh90.

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