Ice Hockey Wiki

2021–22 NHL season
League National Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Duration October 12, 2021 (pending approval of cross-border travel)[1][2] – June 2022
Number of games TBD
Number of teams 32
Regular season
Stanley Cup
NHL seasons
2022–23 →

The 2021–22 NHL season will be the 105th season of operation (104th season of play) of the National Hockey League (NHL). The league will expand to 32 teams with the addition of the Seattle Kraken.

The league plans to return to its normal October-to-April, 82-game regular season with a target date of October 12 for opening night, but this is contingent on the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government of Canada reducing its COVID-19 cross-border travel restrictions.[1][2]

League business[]


On December 4, 2018, the NHL confirmed that it had granted an expansion franchise in the city of Seattle.[3] The team was christened as the Seattle Kraken on July 23, 2020.[4][5] On April 30, 2021, the team was permitted to begin making trades and signing players after sending its final expansion payment to the league.[6]

The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft is scheduled to be held in July 21, 2021 to fill out the Kraken roster.

Realignment options[]

The nature of the season is contingent on the Government of Canada reducing its COVID-19 cross-border travel restrictions. If the border restrictions continue, the league may be forced to maintain its temporary alignment with an all-Canadian division for a second year. Some Canadian teams have also expressed interest in keeping the all-Canadian division regardless of the border situation so these games are played with fans in attendance.[2]

The original plan prior to the pandemic was to put the Seattle Kraken in the Pacific Division while moving the Arizona Coyotes to the Central Division.[3]

The league has proposed two schedule formats to be voted on, the second of which would effectively eliminate the Eastern and Western conferences. The first proposal will have each club play home and away interconference games with all the teams from opposing conference, three intraconference games with teams from the other division in the same conference, division rivals will play each other four or three times, and a likely return to conference-based playoffs since 2013 with the top eight teams in each conference qualifying. The second proposal would have each club playing home and away games with the teams from the three other divisions, four games against each division rival, six games designated for "special scheduling", and a strictly-divisional-based playoff system with the top four teams in each division qualifying.[7]

Entry draft[]

The 2021 NHL Entry Draft is scheduled for July 23–24, 2021. For the second consecutive year the draft will be conducted in a remote format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hosted from the NHL Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.[8]

Coaching changes[]

Coaching changes
Team 2020–21 coach 2021–22 coach Story / Accomplishments
Arizona Coyotes Rick Tocchet TBA On May 9, 2021, Tocchet and the Coyotes mutually agreed to part ways at the end of Tocchet's contract, one day after the team's final game of the 2020–21 season. Tocchet coached the Coyotes for four seasons, compiling a 125–131–34 record, with one playoff appearance in 2020.[9]
Buffalo Sabres Ralph Krueger
Don Granato*
TBA 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.[10]
Columbus Blue Jackets John Tortorella TBA On May 9, 2021, one day after the Blue Jackets' last game of the 2020–21 season, Tortorella and the team agreed to mutually parts ways after Tortorella's contract expired.[11] Tortorella coached the Blue Jackets since the 2015–16 season and registered a 227–166–54 record, with four playoff appearances.
Montreal Canadiens Claude Julien
Dominique Ducharme*
TBA 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.[12]
New York Rangers David Quinn TBA Quinn was fired on May 12, 2021, after serving as team's head coach for three seasons. The Rangers went 96–87–25 under Quinn and made the playoffs once.[13]
Seattle Kraken Expansion team TBA

(*) Indicates interim.

Arena changes[]

Regular season[]

The league plans to return to its normal October-to-April, 82-game regular season, but this will depend on the status of COVID-19 restrictions across both Canada and the U.S.[2] The league has targeted October 12 for opening night.[1]

International games[]

The league plans to hold the three international games that were originally scheduled during the previous season but were postponed due to the pandemic: 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.[18][19]

Outdoor games[]

The league plans to hold the outdoor games that were originally scheduled during the previous season but were postponed due to the pandemic:[20][21][22]


Main article: Ice hockey at the 2022 Winter Olympics – Men's tournament

The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that the league and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) signed on July 10, 2020, included a provision opening the possibility for the NHL to explore participation at the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics.[23]

All-Star Game[]

The All-Star Game that was originally scheduled during the previous season was to have taken place at the Florida Panthers' arena, the BB&T Center.[20] Should the league decide to go to the Olympics, the All-Star Game may be postponed for another season.

Media rights[]



This is the eighth season of the league's 12-year Canadian national broadcast rights deal with Sportsnet. This includes Sportnet's sub-licensing agreements to air Saturday Hockey Night in Canada games on CBC Television and French-language broadcasts on TVA Sports. And games streamed on Sportsnet Now, (for games televised by CBC), or the subscription service Rogers NHL Live.[24]

United States[]


The 2021–22 season brings a significant realignment for national media rights in the U.S., as it marks the first year of seven-year agreements with ESPN and Turner Sports. This will be the first time that ESPN broadcasts the NHL since 2003–04, while this is Turner's first national NHL contract, and resembles the two's existing broadcast deals with the NBA. ESPN's agreement was announced on March 10, 2021, and Turner's on April 27, 2021. With the league seeking to split the rights between multiple broadcasters, NBC Sports declined to aggressively bid on a deal in which they were asked to pay for at least the same annual rate that they had agreed to during their previous 10-year exclusive contract, thus ending their relationship with the NHL since 2005–06. It also marks the first time since 1998 that the league's American television partner does not also own one of its teams; ESPN and Turner sold off their NHL teams in 2005 and 2003, respectively.[25][26]

ESPN's regular season coverage will feature 25 games on ABC or ESPN, and 75 exclusive games streamed on ESPN+ and Hulu. ESPN will also hold exclusive rights to the opening night games, the All-Star Game, and other "special events"., the NHL's digital out-of-market package, will be discontinued in the United States, with all out-of-market games moving to ESPN+.[27]

Turner Sports will feature up to 72 regular season games on TNT or TBS, with TNT also broadcasting the Winter Classic. Turner also may stream their games on HBO Max, and Bleacher Report will have extended highlights.[26]

Coverage of the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs will be split between ESPN and Turner, with each televising half of the first and second round games, and one conference final per season. Coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals will be rotated annually, with ABC airing it during even years (marking the first time that it will be broadcast in its entirety on American network television) and TNT televising it during odd years (marking the first time since 1994 that national coverage will be exclusively on cable television).[26]



On May 26, 2021, Turner announced that Wayne Gretzky would become a studio analyst, and that Kenny Albert and Eddie Olczyk would be moving from NBC to become Turner's lead announcing team.[31]

Buffalo play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret is expected to retire, concluding a 50-year tenure with the team.[32][33] Dan Dunleavy, who had taken up an increasing portion of the play-by-play workload as Jeanneret wound down his career, expressed doubt that he would return to the team as well in an open letter to Sabres fans on May 9, 2021.[34]

Seattle's inaugural local commentators will include John Forslund on TV and Everett Fitzhugh on radio.[29]

See also[]

  • 2021–22 NHL transactions
  • List of 2021–22 Three Star Awards
  • 2021–22 NHL suspensions


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 NHL hopes to start 2021-22 season on Oct. 12 (April 21, 2021).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Multiple Canadian teams will lobby for North Division continuing after 2021 (March 13, 2021).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chiappelli, Kirstie (December 4, 2018). "Seattle lands NHL expansion team starting in 2021-22 season". 
  4. NHL's Seattle team postpones name reveal amid coronavirus pandemic (March 20, 2020).
  5. Cotsonika, Nicholas J.. "Seattle Kraken reveal nickname for NHL expansion team", NHL Enterprises, L.P., July 23, 2020. 
  6. "Seattle Kraken make final payment, officially become 32nd NHL team", Associated Press, USA Today, April 30, 2021. 
  8. Gulitti, Tom. "2021 NHL Draft Lottery to take place June 2", NHL Enterprises, L.P., May 19, 2021. 
  9. Rick Tocchet won't return as head coach of Arizona Coyotes (May 9, 2021).
  10. Lysowski, Lance (March 17, 2021). Ralph Krueger fired as Sabres' coach after winless streak reaches 12 games. The Buffalo News.
  11. CBJ, John Tortorella mutually agree to part ways (May 9, 2021).
  12. Claude Julien and Kirk Muller relieved of their coaching duties (February 24, 2021).
  13. Rangers Announce Changes to Coaching Staff (May 12, 2021).
  14. All Islanders' '20-21 home games will be at Coliseum, Cuomo, NHL commish confirm (March 1, 2020).
  15. "NHL Seattle expansion team to play at Climate Pledge Arena", June 25, 2020. 
  16. Condor, Bob. "Making the 'Climate Pledge'", June 24, 2020. 
  17. Long, Michael (June 26, 2020). Amazon deal sees Seattle's NHL venue renamed Climate Pledge Arena.
  18. Bruins, Predators, Avalanche, Blue Jackets to play in 2020 Global Series (November 8, 2019).
  19. NHL postpones 2020 international games (May 8, 2020).
  20. 20.0 20.1 NHL postpones Winter Classic, All-Star Weekend for upcoming season.
  21. NHL postpones 2021 Winter Classic, All-Star Game (2020-10-22).
  22. 2021 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series Game Postponed (2020-12-23).
  23. NHL, NHLPA ratify CBA extension through 2025–26 season. National Hockey League.
  24. Rosen, Dan (November 26, 2013). NHL, Rogers announce landmark 12-year deal.
  25. "NHL moving to Turner Sports is $1 billion risk-reward for hockey", CNBC, April 27, 2021. Retrieved on April 27, 2021. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 "Turner Sports inks 7-year deal with NHL, will air 3 Stanley Cup finals", ESPN, April 27, 2021. Retrieved on April 27, 2021. 
  27. "NHL back on ESPN with 7-year multiplatform deal", ESPN, March 10, 2021. Retrieved on April 13, 2021. 
  28. Fink, James (September 9, 2016). Entercom Buffalo to keep broadcasting Bills, Sabres on radio. Business First.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Kraken agrees to TV deal with ROOT Sports; John Forslund hired as play-by-play broadcaster (January 26, 2021). Retrieved on April 13, 2021.
  30. Sports Radio KJR named Kraken flagship station (March 3, 2021). Retrieved on April 27, 2021.
  31. "The Great Move: Gretzky will be part of Turner’s NHL studio", Associated Press, May 26, 2021. 
  32. Rick Jeanneret has 'a feeling' next Sabres season will be his last hurrah. The Buffalo News.
  33. Pergament, Alan (May 7, 2021). Rick Jeanneret to call Saturday's Sabres finale. Will it also be his?. The Buffalo News.
  34. "Because we.. never know what is next in this crazy world, I wanted to issue a thank you to everyone who has welcomed me & taken time to know me a little better." Dan Dunleavy's official Twitter account (May 9, 2021). Retrieved May 9, 2021.
NHL Seasons

2017-18 | 2018-19 | 2019-20 | 2020-21 | 2021-22 | 2022-23 | 2023-24 | 2024-25 | 2025-26

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