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NHL and NHLPA reach tentative deal for 56-game regular season

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Panthers will play in “Central” Division

Dallas Stars v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

According to reports, the NHL and NHLPA have reached a tentative deal on a 56-game 2021 season. The plan remains to begin play on January 13, but that date has not been finalized. Training camps will start on December 31 for the seven teams that did not participate in the playoffs and January 3 for the 24 teams that did. There will be no exhibitions games.

Both the NHL Board of Governors and the players’ association still need to vote to approve the deal before it becomes official. That is expected to happen early next week.

The Florida Panthers are expected to be in an eight-team, hodgepodge division with the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The rest of the divisions are expected to look like this:

Boston-Buffalo-New Jersey-NY Islanders-NY Rangers-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh-Washington

Anaheim-Arizona-Colorado-Minnesota-Los Angeles-Las Vegas-San Jose-St. Louis

Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto-Winnipeg-Edmonton-Calgary-Vancouver

Regular season play will repotedly take place within the division and each division will produce a champion for the Stanley Cup semifinals.

Teams will have a 23-man roster plus a four-to-six player taxi squad, and teams will have the option to “toll” the contract year of a player who opts out of the season. If a player opts out, it is expected he will not be paid and the team will decide if that year of the contract is burned or not.

Players will be tested for covid-19 every other day, possibly every day, and will be expected to have minimal contact with the outside world.

Let’s drop the puck!

Caterwaul

Santtu Kinnunen collected an assist, his ninth of the season, in Tappara’s 6-3 win over TPS Turku in Friday action from Finland’s Liiga. The 21-year-old defenseman logged 15:53 of ice time and finished the game with a +2 rating,

Henrik Borgstrom centered the first line and registered two shots on goal in HIFK’s 2-1 win SaiPa. Borgstrom, playing in his sixth game of the season, logged 17:19 TOI and finished the tilt with an even rating.

Alec Rauhauser picked up his fifth assist of the season as DVTK Polar Bears surprised the top team in the Tipos Extraliga, HC Poprad by a 4-2 count. Rauhauser had the secondary assist on Nickandrosz Galanisz goal with 4:26 remaining in the second period that put the Polar Bears up 2-0. DVTK within one point of a spot in the play-in round.

Aleksi Heponiemi did not play in MODO Hockey’s 4-2 win over Tingsryds AIF in HockeyAllsvenskan. Heponiemi has missed the last two games for MODO.

Ty Smilanic registered three shots on goal and posted a -1 rating in Quinnipiac’ 4-1 loss to Bowling Green.

In the ECHL, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits were beaten 6-3 on home ice by the Florida Everblades. Ryan Bednard got the start and stopped 20 of the 25 shots he face. Greg Meireles scored a goal and added an assist in his first professional game. Karch Bachman also scored and picked up a helper and Ben Finkelstein had one assist.