The New York Rangers are looking at a January 15 start date

Aug 13, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; General view of NHL logo in the stands during the warmup period between the Dallas Stars and the Calgary Flames in game two of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple sources have stated that the NHL and the New York Rangers could start their season on January 15th. Sportsnet and TSNÂhave reported that the NHL and NHLPA have been engaged in discussions recently about a Jan. 15 start date for the 2020-21 season.

This is one of many issues that need to be worked out in order for the season to start. First, there needs to be a complete realignment for the 2020-21 season to be played, which will include an all-Canadian division to alleviate the worry of border crossings. Both sides will also need to agree on a modified schedule, more health and safety protocols, and determine if the games will be played in regional hubs or in each team’s arenas.

The thought is that if January 15 is the start date and the other issues are worked out, training camps would begin around the first of the year. There is also speculation that the seven teams that did not make the playoffs last season would be allowed around an extra week of voluntary training.

Under these proposals, it does not look like the Rangers will play a full slate of games in the 2020-21 season.

Elliot Friedman of Sportnet told a radio station that “The number of games would be in the 50s. I had some people telling me 52, I had some people telling me 56.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in an interview with Sports Business Journal on Wednesday that the league’s most important focus is on wrapping up the 2021 campaign in a timely fashion.

“I think this is the most important thing: What we’re focused on is trying to get through the 2021 season so we can be back in position for 2021-22 to [get back to] normalcy,” Bettman said. “Based on everything that we’re hearing, we can look at normalcy by the time we get to ’21-22 with whatever happens this season.”

According to TSN, Thursday’s back-and-forth was unrelated to the NHL’s recent economic requests, which remain unresolved, according to TSN sources. The NHLPA has not wavered in its stance that a Collective Bargaining Agreement extension ratified by both sides in July properly accounts for all of the economic realities related to the pandemic.

At the very least, this news provides hope that there will be some sort of season in 2021.