The NHL is now aiming for a mid-January start date with a 52- or 56-game schedule at best, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The NHL's initial target of Jan. 1 became unfeasible because of necessary time for training camp -- plus extra time promised to the seven teams that did not make this summer's expanded playoff field -- as well as quarantine protocols in some markets. As of Thursday, NHL players had yet to receive any official directive of when they are supposed to report back to their playing cities. Players are currently scattered at their offseason homes, including many still in Europe.

TSN first reported on the mid-January start date.