It is with much excitement that I am writing this article! Welcome hockey fans, to the weirdest season that has ever been bestowed on us. Let's go over all the highlights you'll need to know before the season kicks off in just a few hours.
If you didn't read my article from a few weeks ago, I outlined what the new divisions and schedules will look like. I also went over how the newly revamped Stanley Cup Playoffs might look. To get a more detailed outline, head over there and check it out.
But just to recap; the league realigned their divisions for the 2020-21 season in order to try and combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It has been broken down into four regional divisions, with each team playing each other eight times over the course of the 56-game season, the North Division (Canadian) will play each other 10 times. Rivalries renewed will be the theme of this season.
We'll have outdoor hockey, but like we're used to
In years prior, hockey fans have looked forward to the Winter Classic and the Stadium Series that the NHL hosts every year. It's actually one of the more brilliant ideas that the league has hatched over the last decade. Well, this year, the league has cancelled their annual Winter Classic and Stadium Series events, but something equally interesting has been put in their place: NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe.
On Saturday, February 20th, the Colorado Avalanche will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights, and then on February 21st, the Philadelphia Flyers will play the Boston Bruins, draped in the landscape of beautiful Lake Tahoe.
Team's selling advertisements
For the first time in league history, the NHL has granted organizations the ability to sell advertising on team uniforms. Many fans took to social media to protest the idea of advertisements being sold on uniforms, I mean, after all, hockey jerseys are the best! Can you name another sports league that puts as much time and effort into their uniforms as hockey teams do? Basketball jerseys are glorified tank tops, baseball uniforms are button ups with font across the front, and football jerseys are expensive t-shirts. Who am I to talk though? I own multiple jerseys from each sport.
Don't get too worked up yet, because as of right now, advertisements are only being sold on player's helmets, not their jerseys. At the time of writing this article, more than half of the teams in the NHL have placed advertisements on their helmets. Gary Bettman released a statement in early January stating that the league would save a lot more money by just shutting their doors for the year, but league officials know how much it means to the players and the fans that they move forward with a season, saying that the league is projected to lose "billions" by playing the season without fans. So, hockey fans, you just are going to have to suck it up for one year. Would you rather have no hockey at all?
“We’re going to run through more money, or to say it differently, lose more money at the club level and at the league level by playing than by not playing, but the owners unanimously are OK with that because they know how important it is for our fans and for the game."
-NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
“The magnitude of the loss, when you add it all up, starts with a ‘b’. We’re out of the ‘m’ range and into the ‘b’ range. That’s just what we have to deal with and that’s what the clubs have decided they’re prepared to do. Even though it would be a smaller number if we just shut down for a year, everybody thought it was important, as one of the four major sports, for us to take our role and play our game and deliver what people expect from us.”
-NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
NHL action kicks off tonight with a triple header on NBCSN at 5 P.M. EST when Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins play their bitter inter-state rival, the Philadelphia Flyers in Philly. The Chicago Blackhawks then travel to Tampa Bay to play the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Lightning at 8 o'clock, followed by St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche at 10:30 P.M. EST.
Follow me on Twitter for all the latest