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NHL, NHLPA tentatively agree on 56-game schedule

Bill Wippert / National Hockey League / Getty

The NHLPA wants to progress under the terms of the tentative agreement for a 56-game schedule this upcoming season, TSN's Pierre LeBrun reports.

The league, meanwhile, scheduled a Board of Governors call for 12 p.m. ET Sunday, according to LeBrun.

Included in the agreement is a Jan. 3 start date for training camps with the season beginning Jan. 13, according to Stephen Whyno of The Associated Press. The seven teams that didn't make the 2019-20 playoffs can open camps on Dec. 31, Whyno adds. The dates are subject to change.

The agreement also calls for no exhibition games, and teams will jump directly into the regular season, Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reports.

The NHL is reportedly aiming to split the 31 teams into four divisions. The top four in each will make the postseason, and every division will produce a champion for the Stanley Cup semifinals, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

The league still faces hurdles while establishing a plan to limit travel and cross-border complications for its seven Canadian clubs. The initial idea was to form an all-Canadian division and have each team play out of its home arena. However, the strategy hit a snag Thursday because the league hasn't received the required approval from provincial and municipal health units.

Players can opt out of the upcoming season if they or an immediate family member is considered high risk, and their team would have the option of tolling their contract for the year, according to TSN's Frank Seravalli.

The opt-out deadline for players on teams that didn't make the 2019-20 playoffs is Dec. 24, and Dec. 27 for players on playoff teams, according to Friedman.

Group II restricted free agents have to sign by Feb. 11 to play this season, while players on one-year deals can extend on March 12, Friedman adds.

Additionally, free agency next offseason will begin July 28, per LeBrun.

Besides the recently pandemic-shortened season, the league hasn't used a schedule with fewer than 82 games since the lockout-shortened 48-game campaign in 2012-13.

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