On Sunday, the NHL announced that the 2021 season will begin on January 13th. The regular season will be 56 games long and will consist entirely of intradivisional play. The new (temporary) divisions are as follows:
Central Division: Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning.
West Division: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights.
East Division: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
North Division: Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.
The North Division consists of all seven Canadian teams; while the Central, West, and East divisions include eight teams each. Playoffs will include the top four teams from each division and will be intradivisional the first two rounds. Teams will then be re-seeded in the Semifinal Round based on their regular season point totals, as the No. 1 seed will face the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed. Each of the four rounds will be a traditional best-of-seven format.
Training camp will begin on December 31st for the seven teams that did not qualify for the playoffs last season; and January 3rd for the remaining 24 teams. The seven teams that did not qualify last year include the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks.
There will be no pre-season games played this year. Instead of all games being played in one hub city, the initial plan is for teams to play in their own home arenas, with limited to no fans in attendance.
With the 2021 regular season scheduled to end May 8th and the playoffs slated to end in mid-July, the goal is to return to a normal 82-game schedule for the 2021-2022 season next fall.