NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he hopes the NHL team in Canada can play home games this season.
“On the basis of our discussion [with provincial health authorities] In the past week, as well as our exchange of correspondence over the past 24 hours, we are confident that we are in tune and agree on the conditions under which each of our Canadian franchises can start playing in their own building for the start of the 2020- NHL Season 21, “Daly said in a statement on Thursday .
The NHL season is scheduled to start January 13 after the league and the NHL Players Association finalize a deal Sunday to hold 56 season games which will include a playoff that runs through July to award the Stanley Cup award.
This season is going to be very unusual in at least one way: There will be four divisions – North, South, East and West – and all the play will be in it through the first two rounds of the playoffs to minimize travel and the potential for the coronavirus to disrupt the season.
The Northern Division consists of only seven Canadian teams: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. The teams do not have to cross the US-Canadian border, which remains closed for non-essential travel until at least January 21.
The league allows the possibility of playing games on neutral sites if needed. Final details on where the Canadian team will play await until an agreement is reached with federal and provincial health officials.
The NHL finished last season in a bubble in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, with players, coaches and staff isolated from the general public and tested for the virus on a daily basis.
As far as division, Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington and both New York teams are in the East; Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Nashville and Tampa Bay are in Central; and Arizona, Anaheim, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota, St. Louis, San Jose, and Vegas are in the West.
Emily Kaplan of ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.