(Thatcher Demko / Vancouver Canucks Facebook)

It’s official.

NHL play is on for 2021, with a season that will begin on January 13th and conclude on May 8th.

This will be followed by a traditional 16-team playoff tournament, which is expected to end by mid-July.

Training camps are scheduled to open on January 3rd, aside for the seven teams that didn’t qualify for the 2020 summer playoff tournament; these teams have been allowed to open camps on December 31st, 2020.

There will be no preseason games.

“The National Hockey League looks forward to the opening of our 2020-21 season, especially since the Return to Play in 2019-20 was so successful in crowning a Stanley Cup champion,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

Divisions will also look a little different this year as the league has split its 31 teams into  four regional divisions in an effort to minimize travel:

North — Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets

West — Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights

Central — Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning

All teams will only play divisional opponents during the regular season, with the Canadian division teams playing each other nine or 10 times each.

There is a tentative plan in place for each team to play in its home arena, but according to the statement from the NHL, they will use neutral sites if necessary, as directed by health officials.

Especially in the early portion of the season, it’s expected that teams will play without fans in attendance.

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