Bettman ‘expects’ NHL to resume this season

NBC
1 Comment

Commissioner Gary Bettman remains optimistic the NHL will resume after the league announced a pause in the 2019-20 regular season.

“I’m a little hesitant to use the word suspension, because our hope and our expectation is, when things get back to normal and it’s safe and it’s prudent, that we can go back and resume the season and ultimately have the Stanley Cup awarded,” Bettman said in an appearance on CNBC.

The NHL decided to postpone play Thursday afternoon following warnings from medical professionals and a positive test from a player on the Utah Jazz.

“The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures,” the NHL said in a statement earlier Thursday.

Bettman mentioned that no NHL player has tested positive for the coronavirus to the best of his knowledge.

“The last couple of weeks, we, like everybody else, have been monitoring what’s been going on, and we went from dealing with things on a day-to-day basis to an hour-by-hour basis, and then it was in minutes,” Bettman said. “And we were constantly evolving our strategy as to how we were going to have our teams playing or not playing, or under what circumstances.

“But last night, when the NBA had a positive test and they had to cancel a game at that moment, it was clear to me. And through all of our calculus, we knew that once a player tested positive, it would be a game changer. I decided it was time to get ahead of it and not wait for one of our players to get tested, because in all likelihood, at some point in time, we weren’t going to get through the rest of the season without a player testing positive.”

For the time being, the closure of the NHL and other leagues demonstrate how much the situation extends far beyond sports.

“My hope is that at some point we’ll get back to some normalcy,” Bettman said. “And that’s not just my hope for the NHL, and it’s not just my hope for all sports, it’s my hope for everything that’s going on.”

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.