NHL reverting to old divisions, planning 82-game season in 2021-22
The NHL announced plans during Monday's general manager meeting to have almost everything back to normal for the 2021-22 campaign.
The league is planning for a full 82-game season. The schedule, which will be released before the start of the NHL draft on July 23, is currently being drawn up in two forms: one that includes an Olympic break and one that doesn't. The league and IOC are still working on an agreement.
Fully vaccinated players will be allowed to return to pre-COVID-19 conditions. That means those players can travel without protocols and work out on and off the ice without being tested for COVID-19 or group size limitations. Those changes are contingent on North American vaccination rates continuing to rise and the Canadian federal government loosening travel restrictions.
Procedures for unvaccinated players have yet to be determined.
The league will also return to its pre-2020-21 alignment with the Metropolitan and Atlantic Divisions in the Eastern Conference and the Central and Pacific Divisions making up the Western Conference. Each team will play every other team at least twice. Canadian travel restrictions forced the league to create a division consisting entirely of clubs based in Canada last season.
With the Seattle Kraken joining the league, the Arizona Coyotes will move from the Pacific to the Central as planned.
The GMs also spent 45 minutes of the meeting focusing on the officiating standard for cross-checking. No rule change is planned yet, but there will be further discussions Tuesday.