Reports: NHL, NHLPA reach tentative agreement for 56-game schedule starting Jan. 13

The Blackhawks could begin play for the 2021 season in less than a month if the agreement is approved.

SHARE Reports: NHL, NHLPA reach tentative agreement for 56-game schedule starting Jan. 13

The 2021 NHL season could start in less than a month based on the tentative agreement reached Friday.

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The Blackhawks could be less than a month away from starting their 2021 season.

According to numerous reports, the NHL and the NHL Players Association reached a tentative agreement for the season’s format and rules Friday night.

Nothing will be official until the agreement is approved through a vote by both sides.

The tentative agreement reportedly calls for each team to play a 56-game regular season — with games taking place in home arenas — starting Jan. 13.

The Hawks and the 23 other teams who qualified for the 2020 playoffs in August will reportedly begin training camp Jan. 3, while the seven teams who did not will start Dec. 30 or 31.

Much of that general framework has likely been established for weeks, but the sides have been working out logistics about salary deferral — eventually sticking with a CBA modification settled over the summer — and pandemic-related adjustments.

One such adjustment, per reports, is that teams will be allowed to field a four- to six-player “taxi squad” in addition to their primary 23-man roster. Taxi-squad players will reportedly be paid AHL salaries, not count against the $81.5 million NHL salary cap, travel to road games with the team and be eligible for activation at any time if players on the main roster can’t play.

Additionally, players will reportedly be allowed to opt out of participating in the season if they have a family member at high risk for COVID-19. In that case, teams would be able to carry over the player’s contract for an additional year.

Friday’s reports did not contain information about a specific Hawks schedule or the opponents they will face this season.

The NHL will likely split teams into divisions and play all or mostly intra-divisional games, but projections for the eight-team Central Division have varied.

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