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NHL announces start times, Olympics back-up plan

Jul 7, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) hoists the Stanley Cup after the Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in game five to win the 2021 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) hoists the Stanley Cup after the Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in game five to win the 2021 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The National Hockey League’s Oct. 12 doubleheader to open the 2021-22 season will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET as the Tampa Bay Lightning raise their Stanley Cup championship banner before hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The second game of the doubleheader will feature the debut of the Seattle Kraken, who will play their inaugural game on the road against the Vegas Golden Knights at 10 p.m.

After the league’s initial schedule release last month included game dates and opponents, on Friday NHL teams learned their start times for all 82 games.

In a news release, the NHL also confirmed that should its players not take part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the league will shift to a revised regular-season schedule.

The NHL included a two-week pause from Feb. 7-22 to allow its players to participate in the Olympics. While the break is scheduled, the league, the NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation still must reach an agreement on issues regarding player participation, which include COVID-19 insurance.

Per the news release, the NHL and the union “will retain full authority to decide not to participate should COVID-19 conditions worsen or otherwise pose a threat to the health and safety of NHL Players, or for any other reason that may warrant such decision.”

After two seasons altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL is planning a full 82-game regular season for each team, set to conclude on April 29. In all, a record 1,312 regular-season games are on the schedule.

–Field Level Media