The 2020–21 NHL season is the 104th season of operation (103rd season of play) of the National Hockey League. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the regular season has been reduced to 56 games and began on January 13, 2021.
Due to COVID-19 cross-border travel restrictions imposed by the Government of Canada, the league temporarily realigned for this season, putting all seven Canadian teams into one division. COVID-19 outbreaks still caused the games of most teams to be rescheduled beyond the regular season's original end date of May 8, 2021 with the last being moved to May 19, 2021.
The playoffs began four days earlier on May 15, 2021 under a 16-team format with the top four teams from each division.
Impact of COVID-19 and temporary realignment
The 2020–21 NHL season was originally planned to begin in October of 2020 and end with the Stanley Cup being awarded in June of 2021, but this had to be changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting later than normal conclusion of the previous season.
In December of 2020, the NHL said that the season would be shorter than the typical 82 games. Attendance at each arena will be limited by local health orders.
The NHL also relies on attendance for at least 50 percent of its revenue, and the players were against spending the full season isolated in neutral-site bubbles similar to their situation during the 2020 playoffs.
With the NHL expecting to lose billions of dollars, several team owners privately told NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that they wanted to suspend the season, but Bettman convinced them that they could not afford to sit out the season in the long run, especially with the expansion team Seattle Kraken joining the league in 2021–22, as well as the prospect of signing new U.S. national television deals with multiple networks.
In July of 2020, the NHL and the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) initially agreed to tentatively schedule the opening of training camp on November 17, 2020, and the start of the regular season on December 1, 2020.
In October of 2020, both the NHL and NHLPA began discussions on the specific details on how to proceed with the season. On October 6, 2020, the NHL and the NHLPA agreed to delay the targeted start date of the regular season to January 1, 2021, and to decide at a later date when to open training camp.
In mid-November 2020, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly stated that the NHL was still targeting a January 1, 2021 start, but that "we have to build in flexibility for the hiccups that we expect will come along and have to expect will come along with potential COVID positives and contact tracing requirements" citing "difficulties" faced by Major League Baseball and the National Football League over their handling of the pandemic.
On December 20, 2021, the NHL unveiled its plans for a 56-game regular season and that the teams would temporarily be realigned into four divisions.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions traveling into and out of Canada, all seven Canadian teams were placed in one division. The only contentious issue with the temporary realignment was which two teams in the Central Time Zone would have to join the West Division.
They would have more travel time playing games in the Pacific Time Zone, but they would be against the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, three of the seven teams that did not qualify for the expanded 24-team 2020 playoffs. It was eventually decided to leave the Dallas Stars in the Central to make up for the team being in the Pacific Division from 1998 to 2013, and the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues moved to the West.
The temporary alignment is as follows:
Only for this season, the NHL allowed each team to retain an extra traveling group of four to six players, including one goaltender, known as the taxi squad.
The taxi squad was designed to enable swift call-ups to the NHL team in the event of positive COVID-19 cases on each team. Waiver-eligible members of the taxi squad are still subject to waiver rules.
Daly stated that the taxi squad was devised only to circumvent the difficulties presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and is not likely to be used again in future seasons.
The 2020 NHL Entry Draft was originally scheduled for June 26–27, 2020 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It took place on October 6 and 7, 2020 in a remote format hosted from the NHL Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.
The New York Rangers were awarded the first pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft after winning the second phase of the draft lottery on August 10, 2020 and selected Alexis Lafreniere.
Postponed All-Star, outdoor, and international games
The NHL had originally scheduled this season's international, All-Star and outdoor games prior to the pandemic.
Two preseason games were planned to be played in Europe: the Boston Bruins against Adler Mannheim at SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany, and the Nashville Predators against SC Bern at PostFinance Arena in Bern, Switzerland.
In addition, three regular season games were also planned: the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic; and two games between the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, later in the fall.
The 2021 Winter Classic planned for January 1, 2021 was to feature the Minnesota Wild hosting the St. Louis Blues at Target Field. The Florida Panthers and their BB&T Center were then scheduled to host the All-Star Game on January 30, and the Stadium Series game was to be hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes at Carter–Finley Stadium on February 20, against an opponent yet to be announced.
On May 8, 2020, the NHL postponed the five international games, aiming to reschedule them for the 2021–22 season. The league then announced on October 22, 2020 that the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game were also being postponed to the next year due to "ongoing uncertainty" since fan participation are considered "integral to the[ir] success."
The decision to further postpone the Stadium Series game was made on December 23, 2020 also because fans would not be able to attend that event.
To offset reduced revenue due to games being played with limited to no spectators, the NHL is experimenting with allowing additional advertising placements that will aim to retain between $80–90 million that would have otherwise been lost, including allowing teams to sell a sponsor placement on their players' helmets (helmet entitlement partner).
Sponsor logos include those along the bottom of the glass just above the boards, sponsor logos on front-row tarps covering unused seats, sponsor logos on the glass behind the benches (in addition to the boards below them) and virtual ads projected just inside the blue lines.
The following teams have announced their helmet sponsors for the season:
- Anaheim: Pacific Premier Bancorp
- Arizona: Dignity Health (away), Mountain America Credit Union (home)
- Boston: TD Bank
- Buffalo: Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (away), KeyBank (home)
- Calgary: Scotiabank
- Carolina: PNC Bank
- Chicago: United Airlines
- Colorado: Ball Corporation
- Columbus: Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (away), OhioHealth (home)
- Dallas: AT&T
- Detroit: United Wholesale Mortgage
- Edmonton: Rogers Communications
- Florida: Ford Motor Company (games), Baptist Health South Florida (practices)
- Los Angeles: CalHOPE Crisis Counseling Program
- Minnesota: Xcel Energy
- Montreal: Bell Canada
- Nashville: Bridgestone
- New Jersey: Prudential Financial
- New York Islanders: UBS (away), Northwell Health (home)
- New York Rangers: Chase Bank
- Ottawa: Canadian Tire (away), Bell Canada (home)
- Philadelphia: Tata Consultancy Services
- Pittsburgh: PPG Industries
- San Jose: Zoom Video Communications (away), SAP (home)
- St. Louis: Enterprise Rent-A-Car (away), Stifel (home)
- Tampa Bay: Tampa General Hospital (away), DEX Imaging (home)
- Toronto: Scotiabank
- Vancouver: Rogers Communications
- Vegas: Allegiant Air (away), Credit One Bank (home)
- Washington: Capital One
- Winnipeg: Bell Canada
On January 5, 2021, the NHL announced that the Central, East, North, and West divisions this season will be sponsored by Discover Card, MassMutual, Scotiabank, and Honda respectively. On February 24, 2021, they announced a partnership with DreamHack to serve as its new partner for esports events.
Collective bargaining agreement
The collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which had been in effect since the end of the 2012–13 NHL lockout, was set to enter its penultimate season in 2020–21.
On July 10, 2020, the league reached an agreement to renew the CBA through the 2025–26 NHL season, including an increase of the minimum player salary to $750,000 from $700,000, increasing the maximum value of entry-level contracts, deferring 10% of player salaries for the 2020–21 season to cover costs associated with the pandemic (they will be paid back over three seasons beginning 2022–23), escrow of player salaries capped at 20% for this season and decreasing incrementally to 14-18%, 10%, and 6% over the three seasons that follow (with the 6% applying thereafter), doubling of the playoff bonus pool to $32 million, and an agreement for the NHL to negotiate a return to the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics (after being absent from the 2018 Winter Olympics).
The CBA will be automatically renewed through 2026–27 if player escrow debt falls between $125 million and $250 million after the 2024–25 season.
As part of the new CBA, the salary cap will remain at $81.5 million for the 2020–21 season. Future increases will occur incrementally until the league recovers from the financial impact of the pandemic.
On December 22, 2020, the NHL announced that the offside rules have been modified so that players only have to break the plane of the blue line to be ruled onside instead of having to actually touch it with their skate.
Player and puck tracking technology
For the first time, the NHL deployed the league's player and puck tracking system in all 31 NHL arenas. The system will allow on-air features such as speed displays, puck tracking graphics, and marker graphics hovering above players (though not to the extremes on-air of the mid-90s FoxTrax experiment).
The NHL had planned to deploy this technology to all 31 arenas by September 2019, but a change to its primary technology partner delayed implementation until the 2020 playoffs.
After the first week of the season, the NHL announced that it was temporarily suspending the puck tracking system due to performance issues, stating that "the first supply of 2020–21 pucks did not receive the same precise finishing treatments during the off-season manufacturing process as were used during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs." The player tracking remained unaffected.
On April 30, 2021, the Seattle Kraken paid the final installment of their expansion fee, formally admitting them into the NHL and allowing them to begin acquiring players. On May 12, 2021, they signed their first player, QMJHL free agent Luke Henman.
|Team||2019–20 coach||2020–21 coach||Story / Accomplishments|
|Calgary Flames||Bill Peters
|Geoff Ward||Peters resigned on November 29, 2019, after accusations of racism were made by former Rockford IceHogs player Akim Aliu when Peters was coaching the AHL club a decade earlier. Peters spent 1⅓ seasons with the Flames, registering a record of 12–12–4 to start the season after reaching the first round of the playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference the previous season. Ward, who served as an assistant coach, was named interim head coach. On September 14, 2020, he was named head coach.|
|Dallas Stars||Jim Montgomery
|Rick Bowness||Montgomery was dismissed on December 10, 2019, due to "unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs" of the Stars and the league. He spent 1⅓ seasons with the Stars, registering a record of 17–11–3 to start the season after reaching the second round of the playoffs the previous season. Bowness, who served as an assistant coach, was named interim head coach.|
|Minnesota Wild||Bruce Boudreau
|Dean Evason||Boudreau was fired on February 14, 2020, after 3⅔ seasons with the team, which had registered a record of 27–23–7 to start the season. The Wild had reached the playoffs in the first two seasons of his tenure in Minnesota but had not qualified for the playoffs since the 2017–18 season. Evason, who had served as an assistant coach with the Wild since the start of the 2018–19 season, was immediately named interim head coach.|
|New Jersey Devils||John Hynes
|Lindy Ruff||Hynes was fired on December 3, 2019, after 4⅓ seasons with the team, which had registered a 9–13–4 record to start the season. The Devils reached the playoffs once in Hynes' tenure, and did not advance past the first round in 2018. Nasreddine, who served as an assistant coach, was named interim head coach. On July 9, 2020, the Devils named Ruff as head coach who was previously an assistant coach for the New York Rangers.|
|San Jose Sharks||Peter DeBoer
|Bob Boughner||DeBoer was fired on December 11, 2019, after 4⅓ seasons with the team, which had registered a record of 15–16–2 to start the season. The Sharks qualified for the playoffs in all of the four previous seasons under DeBoer, and advanced to the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals. Boughner, who served as an assistant coach, was named interim head coach.|
|Washington Capitals||Todd Reirden||Peter Laviolette||Reirden was fired on August 24, 2020, after the team failed to get past the first round for the second consecutive year. The team won the division title each year under Reirden, accumulating an 89–46–16 record over two seasons. On September 15, 2020, the Capitals named Laviolette as head coach, who had been fired by Nashville the previous season.|
|Team||Outgoing coach||Incoming coach||Story / Accomplishments|
|Buffalo Sabres||Ralph Krueger||Don Granato*||Krueger was fired on March 17, 2021, after parts of two seasons with Buffalo, with the team suffering a 6–18–4 start and a 12-game losing streak. Krueger totaled a 36–49–12 record during his short tenure, and failed to lead the team to the playoffs in his lone complete season. Assistant coach Granato was named interim head coach.|
|Calgary Flames||Geoff Ward||Darryl Sutter||Ward was fired on March 4, 2021, after parts of two seasons with Calgary, with the team starting the season 11–11–2. Ward amassed a 35–26–5 record during his brief tenure, and led the team to the first round of the playoffs in 2020. Sutter, who had previously coached Calgary from 2002 to 2006, and most recently was head coach of the Los Angeles Kings from 2011 to 2017, was named as his replacement shortly afterwards.|
|Montreal Canadiens||Claude Julien||Dominique Ducharme*||Julien was fired on February 24, 2021, after parts of five seasons during his second stint as head coach of the Canadiens, which had registered a 9–5–4 record to start the season. Julien compiled a 129–123–35 record during his second stint and the team reached the playoffs twice during his tenure, never advancing past the first round. Assistant coach Ducharme was named interim head coach.|
(*) Indicates interim.
Front office changes
|Team||2019–20 GM||2020–21 GM||Story / Accomplishments|
|Arizona Coyotes||John Chayka
|Bill Armstrong||Chayka (after four years with the team) quit unexpectedly as the team headed into the 2020 Qualifying Round. Sullivan was named interim general manager. Armstrong was named general manager on September 16, 2020. He had previously served as assistant general manager of the St. Louis Blues.|
|Buffalo Sabres||Jason Botterill||Kevyn Adams||Botterill was fired on June 16, 2020, after three years as the Sabres' general manager, and was replaced by Adams.|
|Florida Panthers||Dale Tallon||Bill Zito||Tallon and the Panthers agreed to part ways on August 10, 2020. Zito was named general manager on September 2, 2020.|
|New Jersey Devils||Ray Shero
|Tom Fitzgerald||Shero was fired on January 12, 2020, after five years as the Devils' general manager. Fitzgerald was named interim general manager. On July 9, 2020, Fitzgerald was named general manager.|
|Team||Outgoing general manager||Incoming general manager||Story / Accomplishments|
|New York Rangers||Jeff Gorton||Chris Drury||Gorton was fired on May 5, 2021 shortly after the team became eliminated from the playoffs. Gorton joined the team in 2007 as a professional scout, becoming the general manager on July 1, 2015. Drury was promoted to president and GM after previously serving as the associate GM.|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Jim Rutherford
|Ron Hextall||Rutherford resigned on January 27, 2021 citing personal reasons. Rutherford joined the Penguins in 2014 as general manager and led the team to two Stanley Cup victories, making the playoffs in all six seasons. Patrik Allvin was named interim general manager. On February 9, 2021, Ron Hextall was announced as the general manager. He was previously GM of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2014 to 2018.|
(*) Indicates interim.
Arena changes and regulations
- The Colorado Avalanche's home arena was renamed from the Pepsi Center to Ball Arena on October 22, 2020.
- The New York Islanders are scheduled to play all of their home games for the 2020–21 season at Nassau Coliseum. The team had split their home games between Nassau and Barclays Center during the past two seasons. The Islanders plan to move to UBS Arena for the 2021–22 season. In June of 2020, Mikhail Prokhorov (whose company ran the Nassau Coliseum) announced that the Coliseum would be closed indefinitely while it seeks new investors to take it over and assume the remaining debt. In August of 2020, the Coliseum's new leaseholders said that the Islanders would continue to play their home games at the arena for the 2020–21 season.
All American NHL teams hosted a limited amount of in-person spectators during the season; only three admitted them at the start of the season.
While several Canadian NHL teams submitted proposals to their provincial governments to allow for in-person spectators, they were all rejected by local health authorities. All North Division games were played behind closed doors for the entirety of the regular season.
Due to Santa Clara County banning all contact sports in response to a local rise of COVID-19 cases, the San Jose Sharks began the season on an extended road trip. Their first two home games on February 1 and 3 against the Vegas Golden Knights was to have been held at Gila River Arena (the home of division rival Arizona Coyotes), but it ended up being postponed due to a COVID outbreak among the Golden Knights. On January 25, 2021, Santa Clara County health officials announced that they were lifting the ban, but the Sharks stated that they still needed to work out several health and safety issues and therefore did not return to SAP Center until February 13th.
The Tampa Bay Lightning initially announced that it would cap Amalie Arena at 20% capacity. However, the team's ownership later announced that no spectators will be allowed at the arena for Lightning games through at least February 2, 2021, due to concerns surrounding local case numbers. The team later announced on March 4 that a maximum of 3,800 fans would be allowed at home games beginning March 13th.
On February 10, 2021, Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would allow large sports venues to host spectators at 10% of their capacity beginning February 23, 2021, affecting the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers. All spectators must present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the event and may also be required to submit to a rapid test if their PCR test was within more than 48 hours of the event. By the end of March, Madison Square Garden removed the requirement for testing if the spectator is fully vaccinated (no fewer than 14 days since the spectator received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine).
On March 1, 2021, Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf announced that large indoor sports venues could now host spectators at 15% of their capacity, affecting the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. While the Penguins began hosting spectators the next day, the Flyers were required to wait for the city of Philadelphia to revise its own stricter health orders to match state law first; however, the city quickly followed the state's guidance.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the Washington Capitals' ownership group, applied for a waiver for 10% capacity in Capital One Arena in late March. The city government initially did not grant the waiver, leaving it as pending; it was subsequently granted on April 9, 2021. The Capitals subsequently announced that they would admit spectators beginning with a home game on April 27th.
On April 2, 2021, the Government of California announced that indoor venues could host spectators at limited capacities with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, affecting the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks. The Ducks and Kings began admitting spectators at 10% capacity on April 16th and April 20th while the Sharks began admitting spectators on April 26, scaling up from 520 to the cap of 1,000 over time.
On April 29, 2021, the city of Chicago announced that it would allow the United Center to operate at a quarter of its capacity beginning on May 9, 2021, making the Chicago Blackhawks the final U.S.-based NHL team to reopen its arena to spectators..
On May 18, 2021, the Montreal Canadiens announced that it would be able to open Bell Centre capped at 2,500 spectators no earlier than May 28th as part of the lifting of curfews and the easing of restrictions in "Maximum Alert" (red) regions of the province. The earliest it would be able to host spectators is Game 6 of its first round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 29, if necessary. If their series goes to Game 6 or they otherwise win their series in five games or less, they would be the first Canadian team to play a game for spectators this season.
The regular season began on January 13, 2021. Teams will play games within their division only. The teams in the three U.S. divisions will play each of their seven division opponents eight times. Due to limitations on travel into and out of Canada, the seven Canadian teams have been aligned into a single North division.
The seven teams in the North Division will play each other nine or ten times. To further reduce travel, a "baseball-style" schedule is being used where teams will play each other twice or thrice consecutively in the same location.
On January 1, 2021, it was reported that the NHL was planning two outdoor games at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Lake Tahoe on February 20th and February 21st, with the Flyers playing the Bruins and the Avalanche playing the Golden Knights.
It was suggested that the cancellation of stadium-based outdoor games due to reduced fan involvement had led the NHL to pursue outdoor games in scenic locations instead. On January 11, 2021, the NHL officially confirmed the games, NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe.
The Saturday game between Colorado and Vegas was initially beset by ice quality issues; unlike previous outdoor games, there was a lack of cloud cover and as a result, the playing surface was partially melted by direct sunlight.
The game suffered a postponement of approximately eight hours following the end of the first period, with Colorado leading 1–0, in order to wait for sunset and repair the ice; play resumed at 9:00 PM local time (midnight ET), with Colorado ultimately winning 3–2. In an additional attempt to avoid further issues, the Sunday game between Boston and Philadelphia was rescheduled for 4:30 PM (7:30 ET), instead of the initially-planned 11:00 AM (2:00 ET) start time.
- The Dallas Stars' first four games (road contests against the Florida Panthers on January 14th and January 15th, and the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 17th and January 19th) were postponed after six Dallas players and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 by January 8th. At least eight games involving either Dallas, Florida, or Tampa Bay were rescheduled to accommodate the postponements, including rescheduling one of the Dallas–Tampa Bay games for May 10th, two days after the regular season was originally scheduled to end.
- The Carolina Hurricanes–Nashville Predators game on January 19 was postponed "out of an abundance of caution" after four Carolina players were added to the COVID-19 list. On the following day, the league decided to also postpone Carolina's next two games against Florida on January 21st and January 23rd. The NHL further postponed Carolina's game against Tampa Bay on January 26, and then rescheduled at least seven games involving either of these four teams.
- The St. Louis Blues–Vegas Golden Knights game on January 28th was postponed after Vegas defenceman Alex Pietrangelo and their entire coaching staff tested positive. The NHL further postponed Vegas' next two games at the San Jose Sharks on February 1st and February 3rd. Six games were then rescheduled involving either of those three teams.
- Three New Jersey Devils games (road contests against the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 2 and 4 and a home game against the New York Rangers on February 6th) were postponed after 16 New Jersey players were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.
- Four Buffalo Sabres road games (at the New York Islanders on February 2nd and February 4th, and at the Boston Bruins on February 6th and February 8th) were postponed. The Sabres were the last team to play the Devils before the three aforementioned New Jersey games were postponed. The NHL had initially only postponed Buffalo's February 2nd game after the team's flight to New York was delayed due to weather conditions and thus pushed back the required COVID-19 tracing protocols, but decided to postpone more games after Sabres players were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. On February 6th, the NHL rescheduled 27 games involving Buffalo, New Jersey, or other East Division teams.
- Four Minnesota Wild games (at the Colorado Avalanche on February 4th, two home games against the Arizona Coyotes on February 6 and February 7th, and a home game against St. Louis on February 9th) were postponed after five Wild players were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.
- Four additional Avalanche games (two road games at St. Louis on February 6th and February 7th, and two home games against Arizona on February 9th and February 11th) were postponed after forwards Tyson Jost and Gabriel Landeskog were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. As a result, the Blues and Coyotes' two-game set in St. Louis on March 29 and 31 was rescheduled to February 6th and February 8th, originally making it a four-game series between the two teams after having previously played on February 2nd and February 4th.
- On February 8th, the NHL postponed seven additional games involving Buffalo (against the Washington Capitals on February 11th and February 13th), Minnesota (against St. Louis on February 11 and the Los Angeles Kings on February 13), and New Jersey (against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 11 and 13 and Boston on February 15). Additional players on all three teams were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list, as well as Buffalo head coach Ralph Krueger testing positive for the virus. As a result, the April 15th St. Louis–Arizona game was moved to February 12th; with the previous postponements, and their originally scheduled games on February 13th and February 15th in Arizona, the Blues and the Coyotes played seven consecutive times.
- The Flyers–Capitals game on February 9th was postponed after Philadelphia players were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The NHL further postponed the Flyers' February 14 game at the Rangers.
- The Sharks–Golden Knights game on February 25th, already a rescheduling from earlier in the month, was postponed after Sharks forward Tomas Hertl was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The game was later rescheduled for April 23rd, then for May 10th after further schedule changes.
- Two Bruins games (at Buffalo on March 20 and a home game against the Islanders on March 23) were postponed after five Bruins players were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The Buffalo game was rescheduled to April 20 while the Islanders game was rescheduled to April 23rd.
- The Edmonton Oilers–Montreal Canadiens games on March 22, 24 and 26, and the Ottawa Senators–Montreal game on March 28 were postponed after Canadiens forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. As a result, thirteen North Division games were rescheduled.
- Ten Vancouver Canucks games (initial four were March 31st vs. Calgary, April 3 at Edmonton, and April 4 and 6 at Winnipeg) were postponed after two Canucks players and a member of its coaching staff were placed on the COVID–19 protocol list. By April 4th, the protocol list had grown to all but six players on Vancouver's active roster. The NHL further postponed Vancouver's two road games in Calgary on April 8 and 10. On April 10, the NHL announced that 13 North Division games would be rescheduled to accommodate the Canucks, with the team's final regular season game scheduled on May 16th. On April 15th, two home games scheduled for April 16th and April 17th against Edmonton and Toronto respectively were postponed.
- Three Avalanche games (April 16th and April 18th vs. Los Angeles, April 20 at St. Louis) were postponed after three Avalanche players were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.
- Four Stars home games (against Nashville on February 15–16, and against Tampa Bay on February 18th and February 20th) were postponed due to the February 13–17, 2021 North American winter storm. As a result, the Lightning's road game at Carolina on March 28th was moved up to February 20th while the Hurricanes' originally scheduled home game against the Chicago Blackhawks was rescheduled to a later date. The Lightning–Stars home contests were later rescheduled to March 2nd and March 16th while the Predators–Stars matchups were moved to March 7th and March 21st. Two Stars road games in Columbus, three in Tampa, two in Chicago, and one in Nashville were also rescheduled.
- The Blues–Kings game on March 15th was postponed as a result of the March 2021 North American blizzard. The Kings had previously played a two-game series against the Avalanche, and were unable to leave Denver and return to Los Angeles before the storm hit. The game was rescheduled to May 10th.
- The Blues–Wild game on April 12 was postponed following the killing of Daunte Wright which took place at nearby Brooklyn Center. The game was rescheduled to May 12th.
Wholesale team changes
- The Buffalo Sabres reintroduced their original royal blue, gold and white uniforms full-time, worn by the team from 1970 to 1996.
- The Calgary Flames reintroduced their original red, yellow, and white uniforms, worn by the team from 1980 to 1994. The design had been used as an alternate, retro jersey in recent seasons. The team's primarily red and black former home sweater will be the alternate jersey going forward.
- The Dallas Stars introduced new alternate black and neon green uniforms.
- The Ottawa Senators reintroduced its 1997–2007 logo, with a gold outline as opposed to red, and a uniform set similar to the jerseys used from 1992 to 1995.
- The San Jose Sharks reintroduced their original Heritage jersey worn by the team from 1991 to 1998, to be worn during select games to celebrate their 30th anniversary.
- The Vegas Golden Knights introduced new alternate metallic gold uniforms.
- The Washington Capitals introduced alternate navy blue uniforms based on the ones they wore during the 2018 NHL Stadium Series.
- From January 16, 2021 through the end of February (in honour of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month), all players will wear commemorative "Celebrating Equality" decals on their helmets featuring an image of Willie O'Ree—the first black player in the NHL.
"Reverse Retro" jerseys
On November 16, 2020, the NHL introduced Adidas "Reverse Retro" jerseys for all 31 teams, which feature throwback uniforms with a modern twist.
- Anaheim Ducks: The team's first third jersey in 1995, featuring team mascot Wildwing breaking out a sheet of ice, except white instead of jade.
- Arizona Coyotes: The team's first third jersey in 1999, originally colored green but now purple.
- Colorado Avalanche: 1979 Quebec Nordiques jerseys, the team's first season after the NHL–WHA merger when they were the Nordiques albeit in a 1991 design and using the Avalanche's burgundy and blue color scheme.
- Los Angeles Kings: 1989 throwbacks, when Wayne Gretzky broke the NHL record for all-time leading scorer. The design has the 1988–1998 era logo and is colored in forum blue (purple) and gold colors used on the team's original uniforms from 1967 to 1988.
- Minnesota Wild: Features the current Wild logo with the style and colors of the 1978 Minnesota North Stars jerseys.
- St. Louis Blues: 1995 throwbacks, but colored in red.
- San Jose Sharks: The team's first third jersey in 1998, but now gray.
- Vegas Golden Knights: Based on the jerseys worn by the 1995 Las Vegas Thunder of the International Hockey League, except the teams's secondary logo is on the crest of the jersey, and the dominant color is red.
- Carolina Hurricanes: 1979 Hartford Whalers jerseys, the team's first season after the NHL–WHA merger when they were the Whalers, except gray.
- Chicago Blackhawks: 1940 throwbacks.
- Columbus Blue Jackets: 2000 throwbacks, the team's inaugural season, except red.
- Dallas Stars: 1999 throwbacks, when they won the Stanley Cup, except white throughout, including the pants.
- Detroit Red Wings: 1998 throwbacks, when they won their ninth Stanley Cup in 1998; taking additional inspiration from their white jerseys from 1961 except replacing the red stripes with silver ones.
- Florida Panthers: 1996 throwbacks, when they made their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance, except navy blue and with the team's current color scheme.
- Nashville Predators: 1998 throwbacks, the team's inaugural season.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: 2004 throwbacks, when they won their first Stanley Cup, but now blue.
- North Division
- Calgary Flames: The team's first third jersey in 1998, but black throughout.
- Edmonton Oilers: 1979 throwbacks, the team's first season after the NHL–WHA merger. This jersey is inspired by the 1972 Alberta Oilers design.
- Montreal Canadiens: 1976 throwbacks, except the blue and red are reversed.
- Ottawa Senators: 1992 throwbacks, the team's inaugural season, but now red.
- Toronto Maple Leafs: 1970 throwbacks, originally colored with white accents, but now gray, the 1967–1970 logo is on the crest of the jersey.
- Vancouver Canucks: The team's third jersey in 2001, originally colored with red gradients, but now green.
- Winnipeg Jets: The 1979 jerseys of the original Winnipeg Jets, the team's first season after the NHL–WHA merger, except now a dark gray base with navy blue accents.
- Boston Bruins: primarily "gold"-color throwback jerseys, with details matching those of the 1987–88 and 1989–90 seasons, when the team reached two Stanley Cup Finals over a three-season span.
- Buffalo Sabres: The team's first third jersey in 2000, except done in the team's current colors and on a white template.
- New Jersey Devils: 1982 throwbacks, the team's first season in New Jersey after relocating from Denver when they were the Colorado Rockies, except the green and red are reversed.
- New York Islanders: 1980 throwbacks, when they won the first out of four consecutive Stanley Cups in the navy blue focused color scheme the team used from 1995 to 2010.
- New York Rangers: 1996 alternate jerseys that feature the head of the Statue of Liberty, but navy blue throughout.
- Philadelphia Flyers: 1995 throwbacks, when Eric Lindros won the Hart Memorial Trophy, similar but the black and white elements are swapped out for one another.
- Pittsburgh Penguins: 1997 throwbacks, when Mario Lemieux won his sixth scoring title, except white instead of black.
- Washington Capitals: 1997 throwbacks, featuring the "screaming eagle", except done in their current color scheme.
- Alexis Lafreniere: New York Rangers (First overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft)
- Mikko Koivu: Columbus Blue Jackets
- Ryan Miller: Anaheim Ducks