The NHL had come to an agreement with the NHLPA to start the shortened season on January 13, 2021; the season will consist of a 56 game schedule that will showcase each player’s athleticism due to the rigorous calendar. Teams will have to play a schedule unlike before, including many back-to-back games throughout the season, as seen in Fig. 1. Not only will players have to adapt to the shortened season, which is only four months long, but players will also have to adapt to playing the same teams throughout the season due to the new divisions. The NHL had to improvise, unlike other major sports, as they have the most Canadian teams within their league compared to the MLB (1) NBA (1) MLS (3). Whereas normally, the NHL had the Canadian teams spread within Eastern and Western conferences, the NHL had to follow strict guidelines due to the USA and Canada’s travel restrictions. The NHL’s solution was to create an all-Canadian division named which is named the North Division and spread the American teams out by the traditional geographical locations, West, Central, and East Divisions, as seen in Fig.2
For many of the players, their hockey games have always consisted of fanbase within the stands; whether that be parents or paying fans at their NHL games, many have never played a game inside an empty arena. On top of the rigorous schedule, players will have to adapt to the struggle of playing with no fans within the stadium due to the current situation worldwide of the pandemic. Yet there are three teams within the league allowing fans due to local regulations being different (Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes). These teams have a minimal capacity within their arenas with regards to fans being present. Teams have little to no home-ice advantage anymore within the league due to the limited fans. Yet, players will get to know their opponents very well due to the strict schedule consisting of teams only within their respective divisions to be played.