The NHL remains firm in its desire to start the 2020-21 season on or around Jan. 1, according to multiple sources, as the league prepares for Thursday’s virtual meeting of the Board of Governors that will provide updates on potential Return to Play scenarios.

Realignment into geographically designed divisions that would feature the league’s first all-Canadian division since the 1923-24 four-team NHL featured Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, is all but a certainty.

The league has no interest at all in playing through the summer, so that will mean a truncated schedule of anywhere between 50 and 70 games, depending upon the league structure. The NHLPA has indicated its desire to play the full 82-game schedule, but that would take the league into late August. That is not a possibility.

The schedule would likely be modeled on the 2020 MLB season in which travel was limited through geographical play. It is possible that teams could play baseball-like series, with, for example, the Rangers going to Boston for three games in a five-day period.