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Adrian Dater: NHL ready to begin season in home cities

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Nhl begin season home
The BB&T Center in Sunrise, home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers. // @GeorgeRichards

Mind you, this is not official yet.

Nothing with the NHL’s 2020-21 regular season is official yet.

But Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now can report this with good faith:

Even though the likelihood of fans being in the stands is next to zero, NHL teams will play their regular-season home games in their own buildings.

The concept of any “hub cities”, like there were in the playoffs, is not on the drawing board anymore, NHL sources tell Dater.

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Sources also tell Colorado Hockey Now that the travel will only be to games within a team’s division, however.

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For the Panthers, that means a likely 56-game schedule against teams in a revamped Central Division which is expected to include: Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Minnesota and Nashville.

Because of the new vaccines against the coronavirus, the league feels confident it can execute a regular season in which teams travel from city to city, though the precautions are still expected to be lengthy and formidable.

Updated COVID Realignment Puts Panthers in Central, Swaps Out Others

The NHL remains adamant, however, that it will not seek to jump the queue in obtaining vaccinations ahead of others, such as hospital workers, the elderly and first responders.

It is highly unlikely that fans will be in the stands, at least at the start of the regular season, which still has a Jan. 13 target date.

Could there  be some fans, though, given that the NFL, MLS and MLB all have allowed a limited number in the building?

That question is still essentially on a day-to-day basis. No one really knows what the landscape might look, say, two months from now with regard to the virus.

The league knows it will take another financial hit this season, but feels very optimistic that things will be back to normal for the 2021-22 season.

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