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Regal Rundown: The 2020-21 season will reportedly begin on December 1

Could the Kings really play again during this calendar year?

Ottawa Senators v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The L.A. Kings may return to the ice as early as Dec. 1, per a memorandum of understanding that still has to be approved by the players and the Board of Governors.

The league released a tentative schedule for Return to Play, and of note for the Kings is that the last possible day for the Stanley Cup Finals is on Oct. 2. That means the NHL plans to hold the draft on Oct. 6.

Free agency will begin shortly afterwards on Oct. 9, though now without the preliminary interview period. That means teams won’t be able to speak with free agents, at least legally, until 9 p.m. PT on Oct. 8 (otherwise known as midnight on the east coast). This sets the stage for training camps to begin on Nov. 17, and the season to officially start on Dec. 1.

Previous rumors suggested that the next season might not begin until the Winter Classic in January, so this is a significant shift in the timeline, and one that should be welcome. It never really made sense for the NHL to move its schedule back and potentially play during the summer in non-pandemic years — this is a winter sport. Furthermore, players with kids are accustomed to having time with their families during the offseason, not playing while their kids are off school. The sooner the NHL can get back to its normal schedule, the better.

The NBA is facing a similar issue currently and is also targeting a start date in December for the 2020-21 season, though they are usually 1-2 weeks behind the NHL. That league has additional time constraints because they need to finish before the Summer Olympics; players aren’t allowed to leave for international tournaments during the NBA calendar, and the league doesn’t take any international breaks. Fortunately, the NHL is spared of this challenge if and when NHL players rejoin the Winter Olympics.

The Kings have already been on hiatus for four months. Another five months seems interminable, but it’s at least good to have a date to look forward to.

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