Hockey is officially back.
The NHL and the NHL Players Association each voted to ratify the return-to-play protocols and a new collective bargaining agreement, the final step needed for the league to move forward with its plans to resume game action in August.
After a brief training camp phase in their home markets, the 24 teams participating will travel to two Canadian hub cities — Toronto for the Eastern Conference teams, Edmonton for the West — on July 26.
Games will begin Aug. 1, with five qualifying round series getting under way that day. But the Washington Capitals won’t play their first game until Aug. 3.
Here’s what their initial schedule looks like:
- Aug. 3 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
- Aug. 6 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
- Aug. 8 vs. Boston Bruins
For those still catching up on how the return-to-play will work, the Capitals are only playing this round robin in order to determine the order of the top four seeds. They can fall anywhere from No. 1 in the conference to No. 4 based on these three games, so there’s something at stake, but they don’t risk being eliminated early.
Then, with 16 teams, the official first round of the postseason begins on Aug. 11. The second round will begin Aug. 25, the conference finals will start Sept. 8 and the Stanley Cup Final begins Sept. 22, which could run until as late as Oct. 4.
See the full schedule below: