The NHL announced on Friday night that the league has reached a tentative agreement with the NHL Players’ Association on the upcoming season. Instead of the usual 82-game format, each team will play 56 games in the 2020-21 season. And it’s really just the “2021” season, which will begin on Jan. 13.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have reached a tentative agreement to play a 56-game regular season starting Jan. 13, 2021.

The agreement, confirmed by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, is pending a vote by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA.

The season will feature four realigned divisions, with one of the divisions featuring all seven Canadian teams. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and TSN shows how the realignment would look:

NHL reporter Elliotte Friedman says that the playoffs will feature the top four teams from each division, and each division will produce a team for the conference semifinals.

The Athletic reports that “The concern for NHL teams based in Canada over health protocols within provinces hopes to be resolved by Monday.”

So, we should soon get more clarity on where the seven Canada-based teams will play, and it’s still unclear if the rest of the teams will be able to play in home arenas for sure amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2019-20 season was paused for several months due to COVID, before returning in a bubble format with hub cities. The Stanley Cup Final concluded on Sept. 28, much later than the usual June finish.

There’s still plenty to figure out on the upcoming NHL season, but at least there’s finally a season length and opening date tentatively agreed to.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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