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NHL targeting Dec. 1 for start of 2020-21 season

Edmonton's Rogers Place is the presumed host of this season's Stanley Cup Final, scheduled for the end of September in the league's return-to-play plan.
Edmonton's Rogers Place is the presumed host of this season's Stanley Cup Final, scheduled for the end of September in the league's return-to-play plan.JASON FRANSON/Associated Press

The 2020-2021 NHL season will tentatively begin on Dec. 1, the coronavirus pandemic forcing a roughly two-month delay as the league closes on finalizing plans for its resumption.

According to Canada’s Sportsnet, provided the expected approval of the league’s Return-to-Play plans later this week, the Stanley Cup Final will run from Sept. 20 to Oct. 2, at the latest. The season is slated to begin on Aug. 1 in the hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton, with five-game play-in series and round-robin play between the top four teams in each conference preceding a traditional 16-team, best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoffs.

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The Bruins’ opener this season, for context, was on Oct. 3.

Under the likely plan, the NHL Draft will take place on Oct. 6, 2020. Training camps would open on Nov. 17, roughly two weeks before the regular season.

Of course, plenty of variables will need to be navigated between then and now. On Wednesday, Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton — the city where Western Conference play and the Cup Final are scheduled to be held — announced it was in the midst of a “full facility” COVID-19 outbreak, with 20 patients and 15 staff infected, and essentially went on lockdown.