NHL Notebook: Can NHL, players find common ground & close deal on 56-game season?

(Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

There is certainly no love lost between the NHL and the NHLPA as both try to navigate the perilous minefield that it is the fiscal landscape of the league in 2021 and beyond.

And yet, for all of the strife and discord exchanged between the historically contentious parties over the last few weeks, it appears as though such rancor won't set the league on a path in which the only logical option is to push the nuclear button and settle in for a bitter winter.

No, for as much as the last few weeks have seen all parties posturing and tossing out worst-case scenarios for the upcoming season — whether it be a dragged-financial stalemate or owners opting to punt on 2020-21 rather than play in empty areas — an end result in which the league and players remain deadlocked in this current no-man's land appears to be an outlier, as TSN's Frank Seravalli reported on Friday that recent negotiations have focused on forming the framework of this augmented 2021 season.

According to Seravalli, the NHL has shared multiple proposals when it comes to scheduling for this year, including a 56-game slate beginning in January. While that starting date of Jan. 1 has been a fixture on the league calendar since it was first tabbed back in October, it appears as though all parties have seen the writing on the wall when it comes to trying to begin this season at the turn of the new year.

Rather than fall into the folly of racing against the clock in terms of planning training camps, implementing safety protocols and wrangling up players from across North America and Europe in the span of just a few weeks (as COVID cases continue to surge, no less), it seems as though the consensus is building for a new season to start