NHL: League, players' union reach tentative deal for 56-game season starting Jan. 13

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(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) said on Friday it had reached a tentative agreement with its players' union to hold a shortened 56-game regular season beginning on Jan. 13.

The agreement, confirmed by the league's deputy commissioner Bill Daly, needs approval from the Board of Governors and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA).

Games will be played within realigned divisions only, including a separate division for the seven Canada-based teams, allowing them to compete against each other given the border restrictions that exist with the United States due to COVID-19.

"The NHL and NHLPA have had to adjust to government regulations at all levels, from restrictions at the Canada-United States border to local limits on gatherings... The agreement includes health and safety protocols," the league said.

A typical NHL season runs from October to June but the pandemic-hit 2019-20 campaign was completed only on Sept. 28 when the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in a bio-secure bubble in Edmonton, Canada.

The NHL had previously postponed its 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend as the pandemic would prevent fan participation at the two signature events.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)