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Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

NHL sets sights on 2020-21, hopeful for full 82-game season

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly is hopeful that the league will hold an 82-game 2020-21 regular season, but a Dec. 1 start date is looking less likely, he told The Athletic.

Daly spoke with Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun on their Two-Man Advantage podcast and the three spoke about what next season could look like.

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“We have to focus on what next season looks like, and that’s going to be an enormous challenge again, and it’s going to be a totally different challenge than the one we’re just trying to complete right now,” Daly said from Edmonton, where he’s in the bubble attending games. “We’re going to take our time, we’re going to gather as many data points as we can, whether it be from how professional football looks this fall, how collegiate athletics look this fall, both football and hockey, and maybe to some extent basketball.

“I think there are always ways to play. I think what you choose to do in terms of playing is really the more complicated question. How do you put on a season? We remain certainly intent on trying to have an 82-game regular season. Whether that’s possible or not is yet to be seen.”

Going into a bubble next season but not be all too realistic, Daly said. While the bubble has worked very well for this pandemic-shortened season/playoffs it has worked fine. But asking players and staff from 31-teams to go into a bubble for an 82-game season is… a lot to ask for.

The issue of the American-Canadian border comes into play, too. It’s been closed since the pandemic started and will likely be that way for the foreseeable future. When we look at what’s happening with the MLB, the Toronto Blue Jays were denied the ability to play home games in Toronto. They’ve since had to play games in Buffalo.

“There’s no doubt what will end up being two-plus months in a secure zone with no interaction with the outside world including family members, is very, very taxing,” Daly said. “And it’s not just taxing for players, it’s taxing on club staff members, it’s taxing on league staff members; league staff members got there two weeks in advance. So it’s even longer for that group of people.”

Time will tell what will come of next season.

On Twitter: @zjlaing