When asked by Vanity Fair if he expected to return to the directing chair for Season 7, Bender said, "I don't know the answer to that. They're only doing seven [episodes], and they've got their regulars who have done it forever."
This fits in line with the reports that there will be seven episodes of Thrones released in 2017 and another 6 episodes released in 2018. And though HBO wouldn't confirm Bender's statement to TVGuide.com, the director did seem fairly confident about the shortened seventh season.
However, as George R.R. Martin always says, words are wind, so let's not count our dragon eggs before they hatch.
Are you sad there may only be seven episodes next season?