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NHL drops puck on new season with four Canadian teams in action

Last Updated Jan 13, 2021 at 7:51 am MST

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth (30), from the Czech Republic, looks away as Calgary Flames centre Sam Bennett (93) celebrates a Flames goal during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The NHL returns Wednesday afternoon with a new season that will see the league and its players faced with challenges amid the pandemic until the Stanley Cup is awarded.

There will be few fans in the wintertime return of the NHL in an all-Canadian division, as well as ample COVID-19 tests.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has had time to examine how the NFL, NBA and the MLB have been carrying out games through the pandemic, but a delay or two is expected.

It’s already happened for the Dallas Stars. The team can’t start their season until next week after 17 players tested positive for COVID-19.

The NHL says 27 players returned positive COVID-19 tests during training camps as the league prepares to open its season.

The league said in a release Tuesday that it conducted approximately 12,000 tests administered to more than 1,200 players over the period from Dec. 30 to Monday.

Bettman has said he expects the league to lost billions of dollars this season. Out of the league’s 31 teams, only Arizona, Dallas, and Florida will allow fans in their buildings.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk announced his “robust” plan to allow up to 6,000 fans per game in his building Tuesday, but quickly backtracked as his tweet coincided with Ontario issuing a stay at home order.

The Calgary Flames begin the new season on Thursday when they visit the Winnipeg Jets.

-With files from The Canadian Press