NHL 2020-21 season update: Schedule, format, hubs, fan attendance plans and more

The 2019-20 NHL season started on Oct. 2, 2019, and didn't finish until Sept. 28, 2020, thanks to a pause of nearly five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. December is usually when we start to hear significant trade rumblings begin -- Taylor Hall was traded on Dec. 16 of last season -- but this time around, we're reading the tea leaves on when the season will begin.

Of course, the when is only part of the equation here; there's also some uncertainty regarding the number of games, the format, the possibility of "hubs" or "bubbles" and much more. After discussions with league and team executives and other sources around the NHL, here's what we know -- and what we don't -- as of Dec. 8.

What's the latest on the start date for the season, and how many games might teams play?

Kaplan: Since Thursday, the NHL and NHLPA have intensified talks, as we're suddenly in a time crunch if the league has any hope of staging any semblance of a regular season. The league and the players' association have finally moved off their previous target of a Jan. 1 start date because it simply became unfeasible. The conventional wisdom around the league is that the NHL needs two weeks for players to travel (given some markets' quarantine restrictions) and another 10-14 days for training camp. While there are plenty of players back in their home markets participating in voluntary workouts, a good chunk of players are still at their offseason homes, scattered across the world, waiting for official word of when to travel back.