NHL Drops the Puck to Start off the 2021 Season


Hockey is finally back. In an empty stadium, we can hear as the referee drops the puck down on the cold ice, and skates gliding along it, players colliding, and pucks being shot into the net.  Hockey fans are some of the most crazy and passionate fans you will ever meet. They live and die for their teams and do whatever they can to support them. It is such a beloved sport around the world because people everywhere play it. In the NHL, players come from 17 different countries with Canada, USA, Sweden, and Russia being the most common nationalities. The NHL dropped the puck to start off the new season on Wednesday, January 13. Of course like everything else going on right now, the season is different this year than it ever was before.


There had been debates among the NHL for months for how the season would work if they even would have a season. There was a time period when fans were worried that there would be no hockey season this year, however the owners and players finally came to an agreement. 


A typical NHL season begins in October with an 82 game regular season with the regular season ending at the beginning of April. Traditionally, the playoffs run until the start of June. There is typically an Atlantic and a Metropolitan division in the Eastern Conference, and the Central and Pacific divisions in the West.


However, everything is different now. With eight teams being in Canada, it makes it difficult to have the normal divisions due to the Canadian government’s restrictions. The divisions now are the East, Central, West, and North divisions–with all of the Canadian teams making up the North. The season will include 56 regular season games, and the top four teams from each division will battle to represent their division in a semi-final playoff spot. 


It looks like fans won’t be attending any games as of right now January 14, however everything has constantly been changing so we’ll just have to wait and see. The NHL stated that they would allow teams to have fans at games that they’re hosting, but the ultimate decision comes down to the local and state governments for each team. 


If you find yourself in Texas, the Dallas Stars will be allowing up to 5,000 fans at games, but most teams will have no fans in attendance. Most state governments aren’t allowing there to be fans at indoor events, like a hockey game, however Texas is allowing up to 50% capacity. Vaccines won’t be mandatory for players, but it will be suggested. The league stated that they won’t jump in front of public need to get COVID-19 tests, but they will still have players tested. 


As for the hometown Pittsburgh Penguins, they hope to continue their team, and an NHL record of 14 straight postseason appearances behind star veterans Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Lots of moves were made in the offseason such as trading away Matt Murray and Patric Hornqvist, and acquiring draft picks, and Mike Matheson and Kasperi Kapanen. The team is filled with lots of stars, but the team’s defense is very weak right now which is worrying fans, and the Penguins organization. 


The Penguins have a very tough division which includes the Boston Bruins, the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, and the Buffalo Sabres. Most projections have the Penguins either narrowly making or missing the playoffs, and even with a weaker roster than usual, never count out the Penguins when Sidney Crosby is on the ice. Fans are worried about the future of the team, but Penguins fans are still hopefully to make at least one more run to win it all while Crosby is still playing.