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NHL lays out time table for playoffs, off-season and start of 2020-21

July 9, 2020, 5:24 PM ET [257 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The National Hockey League has set a schedule structure for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, important offseason events and the beginning of the 2020-21 season, but all are subject to change based on the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Wednesday that the league tentatively will open next season’s training camp on November 17th and hope to start the 2020-21 regular season on December 1. Speculation has been that the NHL intended to start in January due to an expected second wave of the Coronavirus, but the reality of being able to play a full 82-game schedule and not extend the Stanley Cup Playoffs deep into the summer for the second year in a row may be the reason for an earlier-than-expected start.

There is also no indication thus far whether the intention is to play in empty buildings or in front of fans.

The NHL will enter Phase 3 of the Return to Play plan on Monday barring an unforeseen failure to pass the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NHLPA’s rank and file will complete the voting by Friday and the Board of Governors are set to ratify the new agreement before the weekend. Training camps are slated to be less than two weeks, with clubs heading to the hub cities by July 26 and beginning the play-in round by August 1.



Friedman indicated that the Stanley Cup Final will likely take place between September 20 and October 2, but there is uncertainty whether the last two rounds will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton or at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

The NHL Draft is tentatively scheduled for October 6 (just four days after a potential Game 7), with the beginning of free agency on October 9, but both could be moved earlier based on when the Final ends. That would leave just five weeks for teams to re-sign or add players to their roster before camp.

This small window might lead NHL general managers to make moves during the playoffs after their clubs have been eliminated.

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Leafs Asst. GM Laurence Gilman was a serious candidate for the New Jersey Devils GM job and was interviewed multiple times before the Devils removed the interim tag from GM Tom Fitzgerald on Wednesday, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.

Gilman has been with Toronto since the departure of Lou Lamoriello and Mark Hunter in 2018 after serving in a similar position with Vancouver and Arizona.

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