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NHL set to return August 1st; Stars skate again on August 3rd

Photo: Michael Lark/Dallas Sports Fanatic

NHL set to return August 1st; Stars skate again on August 3rd

*Taps Mic*

Hockey. is. back.

The NHL and the NHLPA announced Friday night that they have come to an agreement on a package that not only restarts the league later this summer but also pushes through a four-year CBA extension.

The Dallas Stars, along with the rest of the NHL, will begin training camp on Monday.  The 24-team tournament will then begin on August 1st in the two designated hub cities – Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton (Western Conference).  The Stars will play their first round robin game on August 3rd vs the Las Vegas Knights.

The qualification round will feature five-game series for the number 5-12 seeds.  The Stars earned a top-four seed which automatically qualifies them for a spot in the tournament.  They will play round robin games against one another to determine their seeding.

Like the NBA, the NHL is also creating a bubble environment that includes daily COVID-19 tests for players and staffers.  I’m sure we will see plenty of video game set ups to occupy the boredom as family and friends are not permitted inside the bubble zone until the conference finals.  Players are not forced to participate in the tournament and have three days to notify their teams if they will opt out.  There will be no repercussions for missing the tournament.

The NHL paused the season on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The revised schedule has the Stanley Cup finals starting on Sept. 22 and going no later than Oct. 4.  Right now, the NHL Draft will take place Oct. 9-10, though this is subject to change.

As for the 2021 season, the league is hoping to start on Dec. 1 and the league is keen on having a full 82-season.

Additionally, the CBA extension is significant as it comes two years before the current CBA was set to expire.  Among the most notable changes is the return of NHL players to the Olympic stage starting in 2022.  There were no NHL players in Pyeongchang for 2018 games.

The Dallas Stars plan on bringing 30 players and four goalies to camp.  The “bubble” allows for 28 rostered skaters and an unlimited number of goalies.  Post camp, they will get three games against Colorado, Las Vegas and St. Louis to determine seeding for the tournament.

Stars defenseman Roman Polak is not expected to return to the team and plans to join a Czech league for the 2021 season.  The 34-year old is on a one-year deal with the Stars and was most likely to be used in a reserve role this playoffs.  He was splitting time with Andrej Sekera before the break and Polak’s departure will open up a competition for the final defensive spot.

Dallas has defenseman Taylor Fedun and a number of AHL call-ups who will competing for a spot on the roster.  At the forward position, the Stars bring up their usual rotating cast of hopefuls in Joel Kiviranta, Nick Caamano, Jason Robertson, Joel L’Esperance, Rhett Gardner and former first-round pick Ty Dellandrea.

Interim coach Rick Bowness will be looking to continue the success he has built since taking over for Jim Montgomery earlier this season.  He takes a 20-13-5 record with the Stars into what is perhaps the most unique season in NHL history.

With a short time before having to return to game play it will be on Bowness to attempt to get the guys as up to speed as quickly as possible before making another run at the Stanley Cup.

There are two things I love more than anything - golf and hockey. Well, also the NFL... and the NBA...who am I kidding. I just love sports.

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