It’s been talked about quite a bit over the last three weeks that with the NHL expected to start the playoffs in early August (now revealed to be July 30). That means that the Stanley Cup is likely to be awarded in early October, which means that the offseason and draft would occur in mid-October before training camp for the 2020-21 season would begin in December. That would set the NHL to begin its season with the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2021.
That might seem strange, but what choice does the league have? However, there is little to no conversation of making the 2020-21 season (or the 2021 season) shorter to return back to the league’s standard schedule. Instead, there has been some chatter in which many have suggested the NHL might be better off permanently starting their season on Jan. 1.
In an article earlier this month, The Athletic’s James Mirtle (subscription required writes there definitely are some advantages to moving their season until January. First and foremost, the NHL has quite a bit of competition in the first half of the season, competing against the NFL, college football as well as the NBA. A January start would avoid quite a bit of that competition, while moving the playoffs into July and August would allow the team to play in the summer, often a slower time of the year for sports with the exception of baseball. On top of that, many teams see an increase in gate attendance after Feb. 1, suggesting it could be financially beneficial to many teams to move the start date.
Of course, there are other questions that could arise as well, meaning ice conditions may not be as good as teams get deeper into the summer, while there are questions whether people would really follow hockey in the deep summer. Players also may not want to change their permanent schedules and play deep into the summer, while many fans would still prefer to keep to their traditional October to June schedule. There is always some middle ground though with others suggesting that moving the season up to a November start date might make some sense as well.
So, the question is, should the NHL begin the season on Jan. 1 permanently each season?
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