NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the 2020-21 NHL season could start as late as December due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2019-20 NHL campaign was suspended on March 12 and it remains to be seen when, and if, the season will resume.
There were 189 regular-season games remaining when the league came to a halt because of COVID-19, which has killed more than 233,800 people globally.
As the NHL tries to restart the current campaign, Bettman revealed the league is considering pushing the 2020-21 term back towards the end of the year.
"We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start," Bettman told NHL Network on Thursday.
"There's no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that's something that will be under consideration.
"We're going to try to make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn't a race to be first back."
The NHL is hoping to re-open training facilities in late May following the coronavirus outbreak.
Bettman previously revealed the league is considering playing in as many as four arenas to kick-start the season.
In the plan, each site would host three games each per day without fans in attendance.
Bettman added: "We're going to have to take things one step at a time, because the health and wellbeing of our players is paramount to anything we're focused on.
"Our health concerns for the players really fit into two categories: One is obviously COVID-19, and two, whatever we're going to do, we don't want them playing games until they're back in game shape. We don't want anybody getting injured."