National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to members of...

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to members of the media on March 7 in Sunrise, Fla. Credit: AP/Wilfredo Lee

The NHL is hoping the New Year will be the start of its new season.

Commissioner Gary Bettman, in his opening remarks for the start of the two-day NHL Draft on Tuesday night, said Jan. 1 is now the target date for opening day. That decision was made after talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association.

"It was just over a week ago that we celebrated the successful completion of our 2019-20 return to play with the crowning of the Tampa Bay Lightning as Stanley Cup champions," Bettman said. "Based upon what we have learned and what we know and what we still don’t know, I can say that we are now focused on a Jan. 1 start for next season."

It will be announced at a later date when training camps will open.

Initially, the NHL was targeting Dec. 1 to start the 2020-21 season.

The NHL is still hoping to play an 82-game season after the COVID-19 pandemic truncated the 2019-20 regular season and forced the playoffs to be conducted in bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton without fans.

But, right now, it’s not clear whether a full regular season will be possible or whether fans will be in the arenas to start.

Typically, the NHL holds its outdoor Winter Classic on Jan. 1. That’s when the Wild are scheduled to play the Blues at Target Field in Minneapolis.

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