Hockey is set to return January 13 after the NHL and players completed a deal Sunday to hold a 56-game season that would include playoffs lasting into July to award the Stanley Cup.

The league's board of governors voted to approve the agreement that was backed by the NHL Players' Association executive board Friday night. The regular season is scheduled to go until May 8 with a 16-team playoff to follow.

The season will be highly unusual in at least one respect: There will be four divisions -- North, South, East, and West -- and all play will be within them through the first two rounds of the playoffs to minimize travel and the potential for the coronavirus to disrupt the season.

The league is allowing for the possibility of playing games at neutral sites if needed. Final details on where the Canadian teams will play were pending until there are agreements with federal and provincial health officials. Still, the hurdles won't be enough to prevent the season from starting without a quarantined bubble.

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