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NHL, union reach tentative agreement on 56-game season starting Jan. 13

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the league plan to schedule a call between team owners this weekend to vote on the 56-game proposal. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the league plan to schedule a call between team owners this weekend to vote on the 56-game proposal. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The NHL and its players' association reached a tentative deal Friday to stage a 56-game season in 2021.

The upcoming season would start Jan. 13 under the 56-game plan. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the agreement, which is pending the approval of the NHL board of governors and the National Hockey League Players Association's executive board.

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The 2020-21 season has been delayed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are focused on starting at some point hopefully in mid-January," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday. "... It is clear that we will not be playing an 82-game schedule for the regular season, which we normally do, but we're going to try and play as many games as possible."

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The NHLPA executive board held a conference call Friday night to discuss the deal, according to The Athletic. League sources told Sportsnet that the NHLPA executive board will support the temporary agreement.

The league plans to schedule a call between team owners this weekend to vote on the proposal. The NHL also needs approval from health officials in the five Canadian provinces that have franchises before the league can proceed with the season.

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The NHL said games will be within realigned divisions only, including a division of the seven teams based in Canada. It remains unclear whether clubs will play in their home arenas or in hub cities.

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The NHL finished last season in two hub cities -- Edmonton and Toronto -- due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars to win the Stanley Cup.

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