We still do not know when professional sports in North America will return, but a group of NHL players have reportedly come up with an idea for what the league could look like when it does in an effort to complete the 2019-20 season.
According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, a group of NHL players has been privately brainstorming an idea — and at this point it is just an idea — that would see the Stanley Cup Playoffs start in August, with the Stanley Cup eventually being handed out in September.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has remained consistent in his desire to not only see the Stanley Cup awarded this season, but also in a way that makes it credible.
No idea is apparently off the table.
We already saw the potential 24-team solution that was floated, and now we have this idea floated by some players.
What exactly is “this” particular plan?
According to Seravalli’s report it would include the following timeline.
- A training camp in early July that would be followed by a truncated conclusion to the regular season.
- The Stanley Cup Playoffs would then begin in early August with the Stanley Cup being awarded in late September.
- The NHL draft and free agency would then take place in October during a transition period.
- That would then be followed by the 2020-21 season beginning in November with that season’s Stanley Cup being won in late June.
Basically, the NHL’s current hiatus would serve as a significant portion of their time off and offseason.
According to the report, many of the players that have seen the idea are in favor of it, while the league is said to be willing to consider any proposal.
There are a few things to keep in mind here. The most important being that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic needs to be controlled before any of these plans can become a reality. Right now that timeline seems to be measured more in months (hopefully) than weeks. That certainly makes the August timeline perhaps a little more reasonable.
Somewhat related, and just to get a sense on potential timelines here, ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski Tweeted on Tuesday night that former ex-US surgeon general Vivek Murthy met with the NBA board of governors earlier in the day. While he was said to have delivered a “grim” message on the impact of the pandemic that was consistent with the one from health officials, he still reportedly left them with hope of the season and playoffs starting again before July. Assuming things go perfectly, the NHL would probably be on a similar timeline.
There are still a lot of logistical questions that would come with this plan, specifically the overwhelming lack of an offseason for teams that went deep in the postseason. For any team that reaches the Conference Finals or Stanley Cup Final, they would have only about one month off following a grueling two-month postseason before jumping back into another 82-game schedule (a condensed one, at that). That is a lot of games in a very short period of time.
At this point, though, it is just brainstorm from some players. One of many that we will probably see in the coming weeks. Hopefully we get an opportunity to put one of them to use.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.