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.
#NHL tentative RTP schedule:— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 8, 2020
July 24: Travel to hubs
July 25: Exhibition games
July 30: Qualif. round begins
Aug. 9: First round of playoffs begins
Aug. 23: Second round begins
Sept. 6: Conf Finals begin
Sept. 20: SCF begins
Oct. 2: Last poss. game of SCF
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.
If everything is going according to plan, NHL 20-21 season will start on December first. Training camps in November 17.— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) July 8, 2020
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.
More news for Thursday:
- Ron Hextall will return as an advisor for the Kings next season.
- Draft alert: Marco Sturm on Tim Stutzle.
- Dante Giugliano writes why the Kings rebuild won’t take much longer.
- Ryan Cowley went deep on goaltender prospect Lukas Parik’s season in the WHL as well as David Hrenak’s path.
- Matt Roy shared some thoughts on his rookie season.
- Rivalry Week continues, as SB Nation goes through the most hated teams in hockey.
- Greg Wyshynski has some serious, and not-so-serious, questions about life in the Edmonton and Toronto bubbles. I too am interested in if the players will get to play Mario Kart.
- The Devils have named Lindy Ruff as their new head coach.
- The Athletic ranked the best NHL arenas.
- And finally, this was a tough read, but a beautiful one: Emily Cave on losing her husband Colby at the age of 25.