The completion of the halted 2019-20 NHL season combined with ongoing challenges linked with the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start of the 2020-21 campaign until Jan. 13 and caused the league to create 56-game, division-only calendars for clubs.
According to TSN and RDS hockey insider Pierre LeBrun, the tentative date for the start of the 2021-22 season is currently set for Oct. 12, with training camps hopefully able to open Sept. 22:
The NHL on the GMs' call today shared its hopeful target date for puck drop next fall: Oct. 12.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 21, 2021
Which is about a week or so later than normal.
Training camps hopefully opening Sept. 22.
Again, that Oct. 12 start date is if there are no delays. @TSNHockey @TheAthletic
LeBrun's update leaves many questions unanswered. The NHL has already had to push the end of the North Division's regular-season schedule from May 8 ultimately to May 19 due to the COVID-19 outbreak recently endured by the Vancouver Canucks, and the league announced on Wednesday that the West Division won't finish its regular-season slate until May 13 at the earliest.
It's also unknown how the continued closure of the border that separates the United States and Canada could affect the NHL's plans. In the past eight days, the Canadian Hockey League canceled the Memorial Cup, and the Ontario Hockey League scrapped its season due to COVID-19 issues and spikes. The NHL presumably could postpone the start of the 2021-22 campaign if teams are not permitted to enter Canada and play without first observing quarantine periods by Oct. 12.