The 2020-21 NHL regular season will be unlike any other we’ve seen before. While the league has had the reputation for providing the best in-game atmosphere possible of any of the major four sports, this season will begin without the raucous crowds to which hockey fans have become accustomed.
The NHLPA and league recently came to the agreement to have the upcoming season officially start on Wednesday, January 13th, and the normally 82-game season will be shortened to a 56-game season for teams. Instead of the normal divisions, there will be four separate divisional alignments based on geographical location, with one of the four divisions being comprised of solely Canadian teams.
A few select teams will begin this season by allowing a limited number of fans to try and earn at least some ticket revenue, similar to the upcoming NBA season and the NFL from this past fall. We expect more fans to be allowed as the season goes along and the vaccine becomes more widely available, and we’ll be updating this blog regularly as teams update their capacity limits, so be sure to check back throughout the season if you plan on attending an NHL game to see your favorite team when it’s allowed.
How Will NHL Seating Work Under Reduced Capacity?
The NHL has made it a priority to promote fan safety at team arenas and any potential Winter Classic or outdoor game during the upcoming regular season. Teams that will allow fans to catch a game to see their favorite hockey team play in person will have fans sitting in pods, which are socially-distanced and safe limited groups of fans that will only be sitting with the ones they came with.
Existing season ticket holders will be among the first to have the opportunity to purchase pods to their team’s home games, and tickets will be sold by the teams and secondary marketplaces like TickPick in specific pod quantities of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, etc. that allow groups of essentially any size to find tickets to their team’s home game that allow them to all sit together at a safe physical distance from other groups of fans within the venue.
Pods cannot be split up to accommodate groups of people who did not come to the game together, and fans will not be at risk of coming into contact with other pods while in their seats at the game.
What Safety Measures is the NHL Taking This Season?
While the league has yet to make an official announcement on a league-wide approach to having fans in the arenas for an NHL regular season games in 2021, they did make an official statement on Sunday, December 20th that said the following:
“The NHLPA and the NHL intend to be flexible and adaptable in their approach during the coming weeks to ensure compliance with directives from both local and national governmental and health authorities focusing on the health and safety of the players, other game-related personnel and the communities in which we play. The priority will continue to be focused on the health and safety of our fans and Players and Club, League, NHLPA and arena personnel.”
We’ve included a chart below that lists all NHL franchises, their arenas and seating charts, and whether or not they’ll have fans, and if so, how many fans will be allowed. This blog will be continuously updated throughout the season as more teams update their fan attendance policies to allow fans into their arenas, so check back on this blog for updates on your team.