NHL looks to start season Jan. 13; Wings would get extra prep time

Detroit News

Ted Kulfan
| The Detroit News

Detroit — The NHL is another step closer to beginning its regular season next month.

The NHL and NHL Players Association are no longer negotiating financial terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and are aiming for a 56-game season starting Jan. 13, according to Canadian sports networks TSN and Sportsnet.

If the two sides can work out the remaining obstacles — though there are many, they are likely to do so — the NHL’s Board of Governors and NHLPA’s executive board could agree on a final plan by the end of this week. Issues such as training camps, schedule, realignment, exhibitions and protocols regarding the pandemic are left to be finalized.

So, what would this mean for the Red Wings?

As one of the seven teams who didn’t qualify for the Return to Play last summer, the Wings were expected to get an extra week, or two, to reacclimate after not being on the ice as a team since March 12. But that extra time, now, has shrunk to a few days head start, with the Wings and the other six teams possibly reporting Dec. 28 for camp.

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The remaining 24 teams would begin camp Jan. 1.

Reportedly, there would be no exhibition games. After an approximate 10- to 14-day training camp, teams then would dive straight into a regular season.

The NHL would temporarily realign into four divisions, including a seven-team all-Canadian division because of the border remaining closed.

The other three divisions would be geographical-based eight-team divisions, with the Red Wings expected to be placed in a Central Division-centric group with, possibly, Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville and Columbus, among others.

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The Stanley Cup would be awarded in early July, with the hope of getting back into a normal hockey calendar beginning in September.

The sudden decisions to forego economic issues should loom large.

The two sides came to an understanding late Monday that no agreement was forthcoming in terms of finances. Though a new CBA was reached last summer, the NHL was asking for more deferred payments from the players and increased escrow. The players strongly opposed re-opening the CBA, and negotiations from a financial perspective, were going nowhere.


Twitter: @tkulfan

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