The 2021 NHL Season: Here’s What We Know

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Photo courtesy of

After a strange 2020 season for the NHL, many wonder what this season has to offer. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 NHL season: 

The season kicked off on January 13, 2021, the first game of the 56th game season. As we all know, the world is still facing the COVID-19 pandemic. In order for the NHL to safely play this season, players and coaches will have to follow strict health and safety guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19. This also means that, for the first time, there is a full Canadian division due to the border being closed. 

Here’s what the season will look like: Fans will not be allowed to attend any of the games this season, with a few exceptions. The Stars, Panthers, Coyotes, and the Lightning will be allowing fans at a limited capacity. Even though most teams won’t have fans at their games, the NHL will be simulating the feeling of a packed stadium with simulated crowd chants and other sound effects.

This may be a difficult reality for players, since many live and play for the crowd. The excitement of the crowd often helps them get them through shifts, pushing hard to the net ect… Players and teams will have to find a new source of adrenaline to push them through long games. “There is no way to replicate it,” Devils forward Kyle Palmieri said. “That ability to drag guys through the mud, it’s something that as a group, you have to find… The only way to keep pushing so to go on a streak and get red hot,” Palmieri said. “That kind of feeling is contagious, and it tends to roll momentum into our group.”

This season will hold great challenges. With the reduced schedule, teams will try to play 56 games in under 4 months. It will be a long battle, and we will see the impact and the effect of nonstop hockey in real-time. As for goalies, this season, coaches around the league have talked about splitting time to keep everyone fresh and active throughout the season. Teams are trying to take a smart approach to this packed schedule.

Now to what the league is doing about COVID-19. Coaches, players, and all personnel have to follow strict guidelines at home and on the road. They will not be allowed to go out to eat or eat with anyone outside of their own households, and they are not allowed to use public transportation or go shopping. During team lifting, only 10 players are allowed to work out at a time. If any play exhibits symptoms, they will have to self-quarantine. If anyone tests positive, they will remain in quarantine until medically cleared to return to the ice. 

Teams are hoping nothing goes wrong in the crazy season, but there is a real possibility that there could be an outbreak among teams and officials. This could result in the season being paused or canceled, as we have seen with other sports. If teams don’t follow protocol, the NHL has said they will hold teams and players accountable with fines and/or loss of draft picks. Ultimately, a lot of effort has been put into planning and executing this season. We don’t want to see the season get canceled after all that work.