As the NHL continues to try and figure out a sensible, safe way to resume play, Commissioner Gary Bettman said this week that canceling the season is not an option right now.
During a virtual town hall hosted by the Sharks, Bettman told members of the team’s business alliance that he remains keen on awarding the Stanley Cup this season and flexibility when it comes to the schedule is necessary.
“I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done,” Bettman said via Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News. “I don’t want to sound Pollyanna, but canceling is too easy a solution. That means you stop working hard to do all of the things that we’re doing, and I ultimately believe that there will be an opportunity.”
Only twice in NHL history has the Cup not been awarded: 1919, due to the worldwide flu pandemic and 2005, following the season-long lockout.
The league continues to explore different ways to finish the season if and when they get the green light to do so. There’s been discussions about cities serving as hubs, teams playing in their own rinks with no fans, expanding the playoff field, and using a tournament format, among others. We’re two months into this pause, so any hope of a normal conclusion to the schedule is gone. A creative solution will be what’s needed and likely what we’re going to get.
No matter how this season comes to an end, the NHL already understands 2020-21 will be affected, possibly with a December start to the season. But that’s an issue that will be handled when the time comes.
“We would like to bring a conclusion to this season,” Bettman said. “It’s got to be fair, it’s got to have integrity, and if we have to do it over the summer on some modified basis, then we’ll do it on that basis.”
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