The National Hockey League could be returning to normalcy for the 2021-22 season. The NHL is planning on reverting to the regular divisions and planning for an 82-game season. Commissioners Gary Bettman and Bill Daly spoke about the several options in a video conference call. In addition, the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific divisions will return next season.
In the league’s conference call, the commissioners’ have planned for the season to begin in October and conclude in April. Moreover, the decisions gear back to normality after the 2020-21 regular season began in December and finished in May. To add, the league’s North, East, West, and Central divisions consisted of 56-games.
The league has announced they will create two schedules. The schedules will include one with a break for the 2022 Winter Olympics and one without. In addition, The NHL is working on an agreement with the International Olympic Committee.
The COVID-19 guidelines state that fully vaccinated players will be able to return to normal protocols. Players will be able to travel and work out without being tested for the virus. Additionally, the league is still in the process of constructing rules for unvaccinated players.
The Canada-US border restrictions will play a role in the league’s decision. With this in mind, the league is optimistic the borders will be open and will allow teams to travel. Due to the decisions, The all-Canadian division may be an option, depending on the guidelines and cases. As teams in Canada are starting to allow fans back at games, the government will most likely allow the teams to travel. The Canadian government recently allowed the Montreal Canadiens to travel to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals.
With the arrival of the 32nd NHL franchise Seattle Kraken, the Arizona Coyotes will move from the Pacific to the Central division. The Kraken is set to have their expansion draft on July 21 to determine the team’s roster. The NHL schedule is in the process. Due to the NHL’s rules, the schedule format works following the league’s guidelines.