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NHL finalizes 56-game 2020-2021 season beginning January 13th; re-aligns divisions

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Posted at 4:00 PM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 04:32:29-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Hockey is back! The National Hockey League and their players' association announced Sunday the 2020-2021 season will begin on January 13th and will be reduced to 56 games.

Training camp for the seven 2020 non-playoff teams will begin on December 31st.

The agreement includes a realignment of the divisions, and limiting game schedules to intradivisional. The move was done to minimize travel for the teams, as well as to account for the ongoing closure at the U.S.-Canada border because of concerns for the spread of the coronavirus.

All seven Canadian teams will play in the same division which will be known as the 'North Division'.

“The National Hockey League looks forward to the opening of our 2020-21 season, especially since the Return to Play in 2019-20 was so successful in crowning a Stanley Cup champion,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a release from the league. “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."

“The Players are pleased to have finalized agreements for the upcoming season, which will be unique but also very exciting for the fans and Players alike,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director in the release from the NHL. “During these troubled times, we hope that NHL games will provide fans with some much needed entertainment as the players return to the ice.”

Playoffs will begin after the season ends on May 8th.

The top four teams from each division will make the playoffs and the four teams that advance to the Semifinal Round would be seeded by their regular season points total, with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 4 seed in one series and the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds meeting in the other.

The NHL will release a schedule within the coming days.

This story was originally reported by Paul Ross on WKBW.com.