NHL kicks off 56-game season for 2020-21 as COVID-19 continues to spread

Maple Leafs

The NHL season kicks off an abbreviated 56-game season tonight as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in North America.

The league says it has put comprehensive health and safety protocols in place in hopes to minimize exposure to the coronavirus.

But unlike the league's restart of the 2019-20 season that saw teams play in isolated environments in the hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton, teams will host games in their own arenas and travel for road games.

And there have already been cracks. The league said 27 players had confirmed positive tests over training camp, including 17 players on the Dallas Stars.

As part of the league's plan to play during the pandemic, all seven Canadian teams will play each other exclusively in the one-time-only North Division.

Two all-Canadian matchups are on tap tonight as Toronto hosts Montreal and Edmonton welcomes Vancouver.