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Odds on When the 2020-21 NHL Season Will Start

Brady Trettenero

by Brady Trettenero in NHL Hockey

Nov 25, 2020 · 10:23 AM PST

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media before Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
  • Odds on when the 2020-21 NHL season will start have been released
  • You can wager if the puck will drop before or after Jan. 1, 2021
  • See the odds and betting analysis within the story below

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that he wants to start the 2020-21 NHL season on January 1st, 2021, but a CBA disagreement could push that back.

Odds are heavily in favor of the new NHL season starting after Jan. 1, 2021. Is it realistic we see the season start on time?

When Will The 2020-21 NHL Season Start?

Outcome Odds
On or Before January 1st 2021 +180
After January 1st 2021 -240

Odds from Nov. 25th

New CBA Proposal Spells Trouble 

The main reason the NHL is in jeopardy of missing their original Jan. 1 targeted start date is due to a disagreement pertaining to the CBA. The players agreed to a certain deferral percent, and escrow amount in the CBA ratified last July, but the NHL’s latest proposals are asking for additional salary deferrals and an increase in the escrow cap.

The players agreed to a 10-per cent deferral for the upcoming year only a few months ago, but now the NHL is asking players to defer 26 percent of their pay. That has frustrated the players, especially considering several of the big contracts signed this offseason were structured to take advantage of lower escrow in the later seasons of the agreement.

The positive is that it still appears likely a deal gets ironed out and this isn’t headed in the direction of a lockout. The players want to play, and hold plenty of leverage in this situation. Bettman and the league simply can’t afford a lost season.

48-game Season Appears Likely 

While a potential Jan. 1 start date would indicate a season in the 60-game range, it’s starting to look like a 48-game campaign is the more realistic option. The last two NHL shortened seasons in 1994-95 and 2012-13 both began in the third week of January and featured 48-game seasons.

Considering January is just over a month away, it would take a major rush to get everything set up for the targeted start date. Teams need a training camp of around two weeks to get up to speed before the puck officially drops. The league and NHLPA also have to agree on health and safety protocols outside of a bubble environment.

There is also expected to be a divisional realignment, as odds favor an all-Canadian division being created for 2021. Even with unique divisions, the NHL still has to figure out how they will deal with players or team members testing positive for COVID-19. Several players on both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights recently tested positive for the virus.

Bet On Delayed Start 

The NHL and NHLPA have encountered a major roadblock on their path to securing a start date for the new season, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to get done. Both the players and owners want to play hockey in 2021 and will come to an agreement in the near future.

The NHL is trying to renegotiate the CBA because it doesn’t appear that they will have gate revenue and fans in the stadiums. Given the players passion for playing, this likely just means the 2021 season will start later in January instead of January 1st. The reality of the pandemic is players will need to take a pay cut with no ticket revenue for the owners.

The recent positive COVID tests for Columbus and Vegas also demonstrates the importance of health protocols, which will take time to set. The deal between both sides should get worked out, but expect a delayed start and some modifications.

Best Bet: 2020-21 NHL season starts after January 1st, 2021 (-240)

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