With the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions relaxed, professional sports leagues are making plans to restart the season.
Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner spoke with the NHL network this week and expressed his desire to start the season as soon as possible.
Everyone is eager to get the sports leagues started back up and the NHL is no exception.
The consensus across the league is that players are wanting to play hockey. If that means playing hockey in the summer so be it.
Everything is in the preliminary stages right now. Things can change day by day.
Bettman put the NHL in a self issued quarantine until May 15th.
The NHL and the NHLPA have not made any decisions or set a timeline for possible return to the ice. Bettman indicated that they are having ongoing conversations.
In Mid-May, the plan is to have NHL players report to their home rinks for training camp.
The players are going to have a two to three week period of conditioning. The big concern is player injuries, so this training period may last a bit longer.
The league would then begin with a series of exhibition games in June.
Bettman said that the leagues is looking at playing out the regular season which would begin sometime in late June or July. The Stanley Cup Playoffs would begin in August with the Stanley Cup being awarded sometime in September.
The Plan is to have games played in NHL home arenas with no fans. Due to league requirements, games would have to played in NHL arenas.
The league requirements is for all arenas to have at least four NHL-caliber locker rooms, a nearby practice facility, and hotel space available very close to the arenas.
Florida Panthers president Matt Campbell thinks that games will be played in four or five arenas. “When we feel that players are safe, and we have enough testing, it’s probably going to be contained at four or five neutral sites. My guess is that we would start with either limited fans or empty arenas, so just the teams and their associated staffs”
The 2019-20 season would conclude in September. The 2020-21 NHL season would start up in December.
“There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we usually do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration,” Bettman said.
“We’re going to try to make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back.”
The NHL last played a game on a March 12th.
Some folks are indicating the NHL could lose up to $1 billion in revenue if the season is not completed. The financial loss would affect both owners and players based on the league’s revenue-sharing agreement.
The NHL splits its profit from its national TV deal in the US on a 50-50 split deal with NBC.