Detroit Red Wings usually play on New Year’s Eve. Now they may start training camp then

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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Traditionally, the Detroit Red Wings spend New Year’s Eve playing in an evening game at home.

In this turbulent year, they’ll be starting training camp.

Reports from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston say the NHL and NHL Players Association have reached a tentative agreement on a 56-game schedule that will, as previously reported, start Jan. 13. It had been thought the seven teams that were not part of the playoff bubble would start camps on Dec. 28, but now that has been pushed to Dec. 31.

The Wings haven’t played since March 10, when their loss to the Carolina Hurricanes ensured a 17-49-5 record and a last-place finish in the standings.

Given time constraints — the playoffs have to be completed before the July 23 expected start of the Summer Olympics, because NBC is a rightsholder to both events — there won’t be any exhibition games. Teams will jump directly from camps to games.

There are still hurdles to overcome because of the pandemic, but as it looks now, the Wings would be in a division with the Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning.

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The other divisions would feature Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington; Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Jose and St. Louis; and an all-Canadian division of Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

The Canadian division is subject to approval from provinces. If that doesn’t happen, those seven teams may end up playing in the U.S.

The top four teams in each division make the playoffs, with divisional winners advancing to the Stanley Cup semifinals.

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Friedman reports teams will be allowed to expand rosters from 21 to 23, plus a four-to-six player taxi squad. If a player opts out of the season, a team can decide whether that player still owes them a year (so, as an example, the Wings signed Bobby Ryan to a one-year deal. If he decides to opt out, general manager Steve Yzerman could decide Ryan then owes the team the 2021-22 season).

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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