The NWHL officially announced their 2020-21 season outline on Wednesday. The league announced that the upcoming 2020-21 season will be delayed and will not start until January, 2021. In addition, the league announced that a full season of 20 games will be played by each team, with the Isobel Cup Playoffs coming to a conclussion by the end of March.
As for the largely popular All-Star Game, the NWHL is still aiming to hold the event. However, unlike in previous years, the game will take place AFTER the completion of the playoffs should it occur.
The NWHL formed a safety committee in April to help ensure a safe return to action for the 2020-21 season. The committee, per the league’s release, is led by infectious disease and Sports Health experts. Those include doctors Andrew Feldman and Guillem Gonzalez-Lomas from NYU Langone Health, an official NWHL partner.
“The Safety Committee has and will continue to prioritize NWHL player, staff, fan, and media safety above all else while adapting to the ever-changing COVID-19 situation,” said Dr. Gonzalez-Lomas said. “We are eager to meet the challenge ahead and do our utmost to safely return the athletes to the sport they love.”
A delayed start will not prevent the league’s six teams from hitting the ice this fall. The NWHL will continue their focus on enhanced opportunities for player development starting in September 2020. Optional on-ice practices and off-ice training will be available for all teams and players beginning the week of September 21st, and formal practices will begin the week of October 19th, per the league.
The NWHL’s plan is the first professional women’s hockey plan we have seen. The PWHPA is currently set to go to a regional training hub format for this coming season, with hubs based in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Montreal, Toronto and Calgary. Plans for the 2020-21 season are still in the works.
At the college level, lots of uncertainty remains. Ivy League schools will not participate in sports until at least January 1st, which severely impacts the ECAC. Sources indicate an announcement from Hockey East on the upcoming season is imminent and could come in the next 24 hours.