In his opening statement of Tuesday night's first round of the 2020 NHL Draft, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman addressed fans across the hockey world, saying that the league is targeting Jan. 1, 2021 as the starting date for the upcoming 2020-21 season.
"We really haven't focused precisely on what we're going to be doing next season," Bettman said on NHL Network. "I think it's fairly clear that while Dec. 1 has always been a notional date, we're focused on the fact that we're really looking now at Jan. 1 to start the season up. Our hope is to have a full season, full regular season, and to have fans in the building, but there are a lot of things that have to transpire, many of which if not most of which are beyond our control before we can finalize our plans."
When the extension of the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement was announced back on July 10, the NHL and the NHL Players' Association had originally set Dec. 1, 2020 as the tentative start date for the 2020-21 season.
It was also announced at that point that training camps across the league would open as soon as Nov. 17. However, the league announced on Tuesday that a date for the opening of training camps will be communicated at a later date.
Round 1 of the 2020 NHL Draft was conducted virtually on Tuesday night due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event was originally scheduled to take place during the weekend of June 26 in Montreal, but was subsequently postponed as a result of the coronavirus.
Bettman did say on Tuesday that he looks forward to the City of Montreal hosting the NHL Draft again in the near future, but did not say whether it would be in 2021 or 2022.
Rounds 2-7 of the NHL Draft will get underway at 11:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday. That will be followed by the opening of NHL Free Agency on Friday at 12 p.m. ET.