What Season Does Hockey Start? [Updated!]

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Hockey is one of the most popular sports internationally, and it’s clear to see why. Not only is it a lot of fun to watch, but it can also be a great way to earn some money. The question is: what season does hockey start? The answer to this is a little complicated. You’ll have to look into specific rules and regulations to find out when individual competitions (and hopefully, the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs) will begin.

When Does Hockey Start?

Hockey season doesn’t just begin in April. The season actually starts two months earlier, with the official opening of the Winter Olympics in February. This is the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) definition of hockey season, and it’s a common one. Most countries use the same calendar to determine when their national teams will start playing hockey, so you’ll often see players from one country competing during the season for another. For example, Canada will play a lot of exhibition games against the United States and its’ northernmost province, Ontario, is in the same division (for hockey purposes) as Quebec and Alberta, so the Canadian National Hockey League (NHL) teams will be playing a lot of games against their northern neighbors this winter.

The IIHF also sets the dates of various international tournaments throughout the year, so it’s imperative you keep track of these dates if you want to follow the hockey season. The IIHF World Championships take place every year in a different country, with the 2019 edition being in Italy. The competition is open to all members of the International Ice Hockey Federation (excluding those from the South American countries that compete in an annual tournament), and the winner of the tournament is determined by how many points they accumulate during the season. Typically, these competitions are held in the spring, so you can expect to see NHL teams competing in them during the season (and in some cases, even the Stanley Cup finals). Other tournaments that are important to keep an eye on include the World Juniors, in which the best young hockey players in the world gather in a month-long tournament in Canada, and the Spengler Cup, an international men’s ice hockey tournament that takes place in Spengler Stadium, Germany, in the winter.

Is There A Regular Season?

No. Even though there is an IIHF-defined hockey season, it doesn’t mean there is necessarily a regular season. Depending on the league, teams may not play every other week, like in the NHL or the National Hockey League (NHL) Europe, and some seasons may only have a couple of games every week.

When Does Hockey End?

Like with most sports, the end of the season is a little fuzzy in hockey. The end of the regular season is usually determined by how many games the team with the most points at the end of the season wins. Depending on the number of playoff series, the championship game, and potential series that extend into the following summer, the end of the season can be delayed until a few days before the start of the following year. This is similar to how the NFL works (although they determine the end of the regular season a little differently).

Does Hockey Remain Competitive During The Off-Season?

Yes. Even though there isn’t a hockey season, teams still play games during the off-season. These games are usually between teams that are in the same division, or they are pre-season games (or mini-seasons) that teams will use to prepare for the upcoming season. There are also exhibition games, which are a lot like regular season games but they don’t count towards the team’s record.

Where Can I Follow Hockey?

NHL Network, NBC Sports, and ESPN all have extensive hockey networks in place, so you’ll be able to follow the game easily wherever you are. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Major League Hockey page on the ESPN Website. This page will take you to the most recent news articles, photos, and videos related to the NHL.

Is It Possible To Watch Hockey Without Paying For It?

Yes, there are ways to legally watch hockey without having to pay for it. Some of the networks mentioned above have free trials available, or you could try out one of the many streaming services, like Netflix or Hulu, which both have extensive hockey archives.

Unfortunately, as good as these sites are, they don’t offer live viewing, which some people may consider a deal-breaker. Fortunately, there are also a number of websites that specialize in live video streaming of games, making it possible to view hockey anytime, anywhere. These websites are usually designed for pay-per-view, which you’ll have to sign up for, or they require an annual subscription, but they do offer a great value. If you want to continue reading, check out the list here.

To find the best live hockey video streaming websites, check out this article from BestWebster.com, comparing the two major platforms (Sonic.com vs. Ustream.com).

What About Canadian Hockey?

If you live in Canada, you’ll be able to follow the season as it goes on. Like in the United States, the season in Canada starts in the winter and ends in the summer. However, there is a little bit of a difference in how the season is divided. The NHL regular season is scheduled from October to April, while the remainder of the games are played during the summer. This is due to the fact that the Canadian Ice Hockey Association (CIHA) uses a split season format, where teams play a bit of both during the year, with the majority of the games being played in the winter.

The NHL doesn’t interfere with the schedule set by the CIHA, so if you want to follow the hockey season, you’ll have to keep track of both calendars. The Canadian teams that play in the NHL will be competing for the Stanley Cup throughout the season, so that should make things pretty easy.

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