In an effort to complete the remainder of the 2019-20 season, the NHL is exploring all options for getting teams back on the ice and awarding the Stanley Cup. Depending on the timeline for a possible return, one of those options involves delaying the start of the 2020-21 season, a new report suggests.

According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, NHL officials are in discussions over a possible December start date for the next season. This contingency plan would keep the league’s standard 82-game season but would cut out the All-Star break along with bye weeks. The Christmas break would also be shortened to bring fans as much hockey as they can until May, when playoffs would get underway and last into July.

Commissioner Gary Bettman recently revealed that the league was exploring the idea of continuing operations in up to four NHL arenas. Citing the need for locker rooms, broadcasting equipment and more, Bettman ruled out reports that the league may resume in neutral sites such as North Dakota or New Hampshire. The home venues of the Minnesota Wild, Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes are said to be contenders for any future games, though there is no official word yet from the league.

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Top ranking executive Colin Campbell did note that the necessary criteria for possible arenas include a relatively safe environment based on the area’s outbreak of COVID-19. Given the climate in New York, that aspect effectively eliminates Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center, though Canadian locations in Ontario and Alberta might present a safer outlook. Shop at VIP Tickets Canada.

Time will only tell if the next NHL season gets a later start date than usual, though it is hardly the only major league to discuss that option. NBA officials have also tossed around the idea of starting their 2020-21 season around the Christmas holiday, while the NFL has a reported contingency plan of starting in mid-October, eliminating bye weeks and playing the Super Bowl in late-February.

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