With the 2019-20 NHL season on the verge of reaching its end, we’ve finally gotten a look at what the 2020-21 campaign might look like.

Over at TSN, Frank Seravalli wrote a piece about what the 2020-21 season could look like, and based on early reports, it would consist of four-to-six ‘bubbles’ within cities around the league with a preference being on locations where fans would be allowed to watch. Furthermore, at least one of those buildings would be in Canada, which led Seravalli to note that there could be an all-Canadian division introduced to begin next season.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told the Associated Press that the league could be looking at a hybrid bubble to start next season.

“Nobody is going to do that for four months or six months or something like that. (They would look like) protected environments that people would be tested, and they’ve be clean when they came in and lasted for some substantially shorter period of time with people cycling in and out is one of the things I suspect we will examine.”

NFL games are starting to see fans in cities in Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Texas, Tenessee and Missouri, with the list growing to include North Carolina, Arizona and Louisiana in the coming weeks, and the NHL has clearly taken notice and when it came to the logistics, team rotations in and out of bubble cities seems to have the early lead.

This hybrid bubble concept would include a rotation of two weeks in the bubble, followed by one week at home where players can regroup with their families, then rotating back in for another two weeks before returning home again.

The thinking is that each team would be able to play approximately 12 games per month, which is doable given that there will be no travel between games other than flying in and out.

For months, the NHL has maintained that they would like to have a full season in 2021, but that may not be possible as a result of the Olympics in Tokyo. Seravalli continued:

One major schedule sticking point is that the NHL likely needs to conclude the 2021 season before July 22, when its American television rightsholder, NBC, flips to coverage of the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. With 12 games per month, that could allow for a shortened 48- or 60-game regular season in four or five months.

After spending months in the playoff bubble, players would undoubtedly want more freedom of movement than they had during their stays in the Edmonton and Toronto quarantine zones, both of which were tightly secured with minimal entries and exits.

The key to a hybrid bubble concept is that it is not permanent.

The plan would be to start the season in hybrid bubbles, then progress to teams hosting games in their home arenas and cities with limited capacity, before hopefully ramping up closer to full capacity in time for the playoffs.

The format of the 2021 season hinges largely on how the science and local health authority regulations that evolve over the next months and as the calendar turns.

– Seravalli

Of course, this type of action would require a massive commitment from players to ensure social distancing and adherence to health guidelines while also following necessary precautions in the off-weeks.