The good news for Wild fans? The 2020-21 NHL season officially has a start date. The bad news? They are going to have to adjust their sleep schedules.
The Wild will be playing some late games this winter and spring.
After weeks of of discussion, the NHL and NHLPA announced on Sunday afternoon an agreement to play a 56-game regular season with as Opening Night coming up on Jan. 13.
“The National Hockey League looks forward to the opening of our 2020-21 season,” commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “While we are well aware of the challenges ahead, as was the case last spring and summer, we are continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and play.”
No doubt the most jarring part about the announcement is that the Wild will play in a newly formed West Coast division. The realignment was necessary given the ongoing closure of the U.S.-Canada border due to COVID concerns.
That means the Wild will play in a division with the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights.
The top four teams in each division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with intradivisional play in the first two rounds. The four teams that advance to the semifinal round would be seeded by their regular-season points total.
According to the news release, the NHLPA and the NHL intend to be flexible and adaptable in their approach during the coming weeks. They are expected to release the health and safety protocols as well as critical dates in the coming days.
As of right now, the plan is for teams to play home games in their respective arena, though it’s understood that most arenas will not be hosting fans.
Most teams, including the Wild will report to training camp on Jan. 3. There will be no preseason games.