Sports News

NHL: League targets Jan. 1 start date

FILE PHOTO: Sep 28, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stands next to the Stanley Cup after the game between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) is targeting Jan. 1 as the start date for the 2020-21 season, the league and its players’ association said on Tuesday.

The NHL, which had previously eyed a Dec. 1 start date, paused its 2019-20 season on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The season was completed on Sept. 28 when the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in a bio-secure bubble in Edmonton.

“We really haven’t focused precisely on what we’re going to be doing next season,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said on NHL Network before the start of Tuesday’s NHL Draft.

“I think it’s fairly clear that while Dec. 1 has always been a notional date, we’re focused on the fact that we’re really looking now at Jan. 1 to start the season up.

“Our hope is to have a full season, full regular season, and to have fans in the building, but there are a lot of things that have to transpire, many of which if not most of which are beyond our control before we can finalize our plans.”

The league said the timing for the start of training camp would be communicated at a later date.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford