News is starting to break about the 2020-21 NHL season for the Vegas Golden Knights.
It was announced by the National Hockey League on Thursday that two of their flagship events will not be happening next year, while the Vegas Golden Knights await a concrete start date for 2020-21.
Both the 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, due to be played by the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues in Minneapolis on New Year’s Day, and the 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend have been postponed.
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The Winter Classic is always a signature event in the NHL calendar and that high-profile event will be missed, while Florida won’t get to host the All-Star Game this year, due to be staged from January 29-30, 2021, which also means that teams will miss out on the traditional All-Star Break.
You can understand why the NHL made this decision given that the 2020-21 season is likely to look somewhat different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a congested schedule the likely option.
While a full 82-game schedule may not be possible in the current climate, maybe a 72-game schedule could be possible and scrapping the Winter Classic and the All-Star Break in particular is a good way of trying to make that happen.
Plus, with the 2020-21 NHL season unlikely to start until Jan. 1, 2021 at the earliest and the need for the season to be completed before the summer Olympics in Tokyo, the league can’t afford to deviate away from the schedule whatsoever.
With the Tokyo Olympics due to start on July 23 and with NBC needing to clear their schedule by then, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will have to be done by July 22 at the latest so the 2020-21 season will be a mad sprint for the NHL.
There’s no certainty that the new season will start on Jan. 1, 2021, either, given the ongoing uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while teams understandably want to get fans back into buildings as quickly as possible.
While it will be a war of attrition for teams like the Golden Knights to play a full 82-game schedule if the 2020-21 season does start on Jan.1, it is possible but there will be a lot of work that needs to be done first and that’s why it was the right call by the NHL to postpone the 2021 All-Star Game and the 2021 Bridgestone Winter Classic.
It is a shame for the Golden Knights who could have had a couple of players at the All-Star Game in Sunrise, Florida, given their star power and abundance of riches, with the likes of Mark Stone, Alex Pietrangelo and Robin Lehner all likely candidates to be All-Stars.
Max Pacioretty represented the Golden Knights at the 2020 All-Star Game in St. Louis, the forward’s first All-Star appearance, helping the Pacific Division win the event with one goal and two assists for three points.
We also won’t get to see the NHL’s elite go toe-to-toe in a compelling 3-on-3 format, while the Bridgestone Winter Classic on New Year’s Day is always a must-watch for hockey fans no matter what your team.
However, this is 2020 and the Golden Knights and the NHL must do whatever is necessary to try to play as full a schedule as possible in 2020-21 while protecting the 2021-22 season.