Blackhawks’ 2021 schedule unveiled: No fans at United Center for ‘beginning’ of season

The Blackhawks’ 56-game schedule will be almost entirely composed of two-game sets, including a season-opening series at Tampa Bay.

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The Blackhawks will open the 2021 NHL season with two games against the defending champion Lightning.

AP Photos

The Blackhawks’ 2021 season will start with the toughest possible test.

Two consecutive games in Tampa Bay against the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning on Jan. 13 and 15 kick off a four-game season-opening road trip.

The team officially learned about that trip and the rest of their 56-game schedule Wednesday, although game times were not announced.

After two games at the Panthers in south Florida, the Hawks will return to Chicago for a home-opening two-game set against the Red Wings — a fitting opponent, considering the two historical rivals have been temporarily reunited in the Central Division for this year only.

But fans will not be able to pack the United Center for those two Wings matchups (Jan. 22 and 24) nor any other home games, at least in the season’s early going.

“The health and safety of our fans, players and staff remains our top priority, and after careful consideration in collaboration with the NHL, city and state officials, the Blackhawks will not be hosting fans in the United Center for the beginning of the 2020-21 NHL season,” the team said in a statement.

“We will continue working with the league, city and state officials to evaluate conditions to determine if there is a timeline that would allow for fans later this season.”

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The United Center will look as empty as this for the Blackhawks’ early-season home games.

Ben Pope/Chicago Sun-Times

Only two NHL teams —the Stars and Panthers— have so far announced they’ll allow a limited number of fans for early-season home games.

The Hawks will see those two teams often, though. They play each of their seven divisional opponents eight times each, with those matchups almost entirely formatted in two-game sets in the same city.

Some sets are true back-to-backs, while others have one day in between. The only deviation from that pattern is a string of three consecutive home games against the Lightning from March 4-7.

The Hawks’ longest homestand is six games, when they host the Panthers, Predators and Hurricanes from March 23 to April 1. They have two six-game road trips, one from Feb. 15-25 and another from March 9-20.

Six of the Hawks’ last eight games are at home, providing a boost if they somehow remain in playoff contention until that late in the spring. They finish the season hosting the Stars on May 6 and 8.

The playoffs will be intra-division across the league until the final four, and the Stanley Cup will be awarded by July 9.

The full schedule is below:

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Wed, Jan. 13 at Tampa Bay

Fri, Jan. 15 at Tampa Bay

Sun, Jan. 17 at Florida

Tue, Jan. 19 at Florida

Fri, Jan. 22 vs DETROIT

Sun, Jan. 24 vs DETROIT

Tue, Jan. 26 at Nashville

Wed, Jan. 27 at Nashville

Fri, Jan. 29 vs COLUMBUS

Sun, Jan. 31 vs COLUMBUS

Tue, Feb. 2 vs CAROLINA

Thu, Feb. 4 vs CAROLINA

Sun, Feb. 7 at Dallas

Tue, Feb. 9 at Dallas

Thu, Feb. 11 vs COLUMBUS

Sat, Feb. 13 vs COLUMBUS

Mon, Feb. 15 at Detroit

Wed, Feb. 17 at Detroit

Fri, Feb. 19 at Carolina

Sat, Feb. 20 at Carolina

Tue, Feb. 23 at Columbus

Thu, Feb. 25 at Columbus

Sat, Feb. 27 vs DETROIT

Sun, Feb. 28 vs DETROIT

Thu, Mar. 4 vs TAMPA BAY

Fri, Mar. 5 vs TAMPA BAY

Sun, Mar. 7 vs TAMPA BAY

Tue, Mar. 9 at Dallas

Thu, Mar. 11 at Dallas

Sat, Mar. 13 at Florida

Mon, Mar. 15 at Florida

Thu, Mar. 18 at Tampa Bay

Sat, Mar. 20 at Tampa Bay

Tue, Mar. 23 vs FLORIDA

Thu, Mar. 25 vs FLORIDA

Sat, Mar. 27 vs NASHVILLE

Sun, Mar. 28 vs NASHVILLE

Tue, Mar. 30 vs CAROLINA

Thu, Apr. 1 vs CAROLINA

Sat, Apr. 3 at Nashville

Sun, Apr. 4 at Nashville

Tue, Apr. 6 vs DALLAS

Thu, Apr. 8 vs DALLAS

Sat, Apr. 10 at Columbus

Mon, Apr. 12 at Columbus

Thu, Apr. 15 at Detroit

Sat, Apr. 17 at Detroit

Wed, Apr. 21 vs NASHVILLE

Fri, Apr. 23 vs NASHVILLE

Tue, Apr. 27 vs TAMPA BAY

Thu, Apr. 29 vs FLORIDA

Sat, May 1 vs FLORIDA

Mon, May 3 at Carolina

Tue, May 4 at Carolina

Thu, May 6 vs DALLAS

Sat, May 8 vs DALLAS

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