Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The Tampa Bay Lightning just won their second straight Stanley Cup on July 7, but the NHL is already turning its attention to the upcoming season.
Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press cited a source from ESPN PR and noted the league will announce the 2021-22 regular-season schedule on Thursday during the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter.
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the league is wasting little time focusing on the start of next season as it attempts to return to normalcy with the schedule. After all, the 2019-20 campaign was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a truncated 2020-21 season that started later.
The divisions were realigned in an effort to minimize travel during the pandemic, which reshaped the playoff picture.
There are still remaining questions about what the upcoming season will look like, but Greg Wyshynski of ESPN reported the schedule is expected to have an Olympic break from Feb. 5-22, 2022.
That break is in place even though there are not yet guarantees that the league will permit its players to compete in the Games.
Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic provided more details:
Pierre LeBrun @PierreVLeBrun
There will not be an Olympic resolution in time for Thursday’s NHL schedule release, sources say. But I’m told talks will continue with all sides on finding a way to solve the outstanding issues. But time is obviously of the essence. <a href=”https://twitter.com/TSNHockey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TSNHockey</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/TheAthletic?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TheAthletic</a> <a href=”https://t.co/I8H5elH6NO”>https://t.co/I8H5elH6NO</a>
Elsewhere, the 2022 All-Star Weekend will be in Las Vegas, and the upcoming season will be the first for the Seattle Kraken, which is the NHL’s newest expansion team. The expansion draft for the Kraken is scheduled for Wednesday.
The schedule release will also give fans an idea of the slate the Lightning will face as they attempt to win a third straight championship.
The New York Islanders were the last team to win three straight Stanley Cup titles when they won four consecutive championships from 1979-80 through 1982-83.