NHL wide

Daly Bettman NHL resumption not at cost of full 2020-21 season
Getty Images

In trying to resume this season, NHL’s priority is also maintaining full 2020-21 season

As the NHL mulls over ways to resume the 2019-20 season and/or postseason, Bill Daly notes that there’s a key emphasis: not taking away from a full 2020-21 season.

Daly says NHL resumption plans emphasize not taking away from full 2020-21 season

That’s what Daly told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside during their Two-Man Advantage podcast. Here’s the key quote, via the transcript of that interview (sub required):

“The only definite for us is we certainly don’t want to do anything around a resumption of play this season that will impact our ability to have a full season next year,” Daly said. “So that’s kind of the outside parameters and rules we’re following currently. Everything else is kind of up for grabs for lack of a better term. There are lots of possibilities. We do have people working internally on those scenarios and what they look like and what the feasibility is.”

During other parts of that interview, and in other media appearances, Daly emphasizes how “fluid” this situation really is.

It’s an opportunity, honestly, to reflect upon how rapidly things escalate in 2020. It’s hard to believe that it hasn’t even been a full week since the NHL “paused” its 2019-20 season, but it’s true. (That happened last Thursday.)

Finding right balance would be difficult if it means an 82-game 2020-21 season is mandatory

If the NHL is steadfast in maintaining a full 82-game season for 2020-21, then they’re going to face a difficult juggling act. Particularly if they don’t want to jump quickly to a playoff scenario when play does resume, particularly a full four-round postseason, and the substantial allotment of time required by such a tournament.

Daly detailed just how many hurdles different plans would need to clear during that interview with Burnside and LeBrun.

“ … Obviously you have network partner obligations that we have to take into account,” Daly said. “And then we have to work through with the Players’ Association what the critical date calendar looks like. We need to work with our clubs on building availabilities. We have to consider whether a resumption of play is to a building that’s open to the public versus perhaps a resumption of play that doesn’t involve a building that’s open to the public. So these are all relevant considerations and variables none of which you can really align at this point behind a specific plan. So, it, like the situation generally, is very fluid.”

Indeed, when we gripe about a team’s imbalanced, road-heavy schedule, we often forget that arenas aren’t open 365 days a year (or 366 in a leap year, like 2020) to hockey. Getting dates lined up isn’t necessarily automatic, and stands as another obstacle in making plans.

That’s a hurdle that can be cleared, mind you, but that exertion can’t be ignored. And the point is that there are many of them.

How might this affect the draft lottery, and 2020 NHL Draft itself? What about training camps, free agency, and needed rest for players? Squeezing things too tight could substantially increase injury risks.

Many of us would like to see the NHL chop down the number of games in a season, but then there’s box office revenue to consider, not to mention the salary cap.

It’s all a lot to digest, whether you roll with the August to September plan being pitched or some other idea. Demanding an 82-game season in 2020-21 only makes it tougher, but it also might be needed for the league.

Getting it all settled in a week doesn’t seem realistic, especially when the world is still gauging the scale of the coronavirus pandemic. As Daly said, the situation remains very fluid.

Follow this NBC News live update thread for more on the coronavirus pandemic.

MORE:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL decides to ‘pause’ regular season due to coronavirus

5 Comments

The NHL decided to “pause” the 2019-20 regular season as the coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak continues.

NHL, NHLPA release statements explaining that the 2019-20 season will be put on pause

Here is the official statement from Gary Bettman:

“In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the National Hockey League is announcing today that it will pause the 2019‑20 season beginning with tonight’s games.

“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. However, following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.

“We will continue to monitor all the appropriate medical advice, and we will encourage our players and other members of the NHL community to take all reasonable precautions – including by self-quarantine, where appropriate. Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”

The NHLPA backed that up, calling this “an appropriate course of action at this time.”

Things moved quickly after the NBA instituted a similar pause on Wednesday

The league made this announcement on Thursday after the NBA decided to suspend its own season on Wednesday. Initially, it looked like teams would play in arenas without fans (starting with the Blue Jackets and Sharks). Instead, they’re hitting the pause button.

At this time, it’s unclear when the NHL season may resume. It’s possible that the NHL would jump right to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs after things are no longer on hold, and there’s also a scenario where the Stanley Cup isn’t awarded at all for the 2019-20 season. Would play resume, but still not for fans?

Plenty of questions swirl around the season being suspended. Could this process disrupt the 2020 NHL Draft and/or combine and other activities? Pierre LeBrun speculated on TSN that a draft could theoretically be held via telephone.

Long story short, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. One thing we know for sure, though, is that the NHL did indeed put its 2019-20 season on hold in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus pandemic gives NHL little choice but to put season on hold

As you can see from NBC News’ live updates, the World Health Organization called the coronavirus a pandemic for the first time on Wednesday. At least 1,000 people have been infected in the U.S., with the latest count being that 33 people died in the U.S. Recent U.S. measures include a 30-day travel ban for much of Europe.

As painful as it might be for so many events to go on hold, the NHL and other bodies are likely making the right call. In a piece for The Atlantic, Yasha Mounk explained that social distancing is “the only way to stop the coronavirus.”

Before China canceled all public gatherings, asked most citizens to self-quarantine, and sealed off the most heavily affected region, the virus was spreading in exponential fashion. Once the government imposed social distancing, the number of new cases leveled off; now, at least according to official statistics, every day brings more news of existing patients who are healed than of patients who are newly infected.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli provided a preliminary (but in-depth) look at how this all might affect the NHL’s bottom line, from short and long-term salary cap implications to questions about insurance. There’s no denying that this is an uncomfortable disruption for the NHL and its fans, but it’s likely the best choice in the interest of public health.

Of course, PHT will provide more updates and analysis as this situation evolves.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL cancels Thursday morning skates, practices as decision looms

NHL cancels morning skates coronavirus
Getty Images

(Update: The NHL decided to “pause” the 2019-20 season. Read more.)

Citing “uncertainty regarding next steps regarding the coronavirus,” the NHL announced that teams were advised to cancel morning skates, practices, and meetings on Thursday.

This comes after the NHL stated that it was considering its options after the NBA put its season on hold due to the coronavirus.

The uncertainty regarding whether the season will be put on hold or not could be cleared up as soon as Thursday afternoon. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that there could be a conference call covering the issue at 1 p.m. ET.

Several signs point to the season being placed on hold, but it’s not a guarantee yet.

The CHL and AHL rank among other leagues that are still mulling over their options. Meanwhile, other sports leagues are making decisions, including the MLS’ interestingly specific 30-day pause.

Stay tuned as this situation develops. Check out the Push for the Playoffs in the event that Thursday’s games go on as planned.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: NHL decides what to do about coronavirus, season

NHL season could be on hold coronavirus
Getty Images
4 Comments
Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• TSN’s Darren Dreger expects the NHL to make a “tough announcement” about the season being affected by the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, and wonders if the league has any choice but to follow the NBA’s lead and put things on hold. (TSN)

• Dreger’s TSN colleague Frank Seravalli goes into detail about why the NHL is waiting until today to make a decision about possibly suspending the season due to the coronavirus outbreak. In general, the league wants to make sure it “canvasses” as many parties as possible before making a decision. (TSN)

• Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston says it well, though: it sure looks the NHL’s season is “dangling by a thread.” Not the type of dangling we like to see in hockey, nope. (Sportsnet)

• Seravalli also took a look at the potential financial impact of this coronavirus crisis on the NHL’s bottom line. (TSN; Elliotte Friedman also discussed it in “31 Thoughts”)

• In case you missed it, Nathan MacKinnon could miss a week-or-two with a lower-body injury. Obviously most relevant if the NHL doesn’t miss at least a week or two as North America tries to limit the spread of the coronavirus. (Sporting News)

Max Pacioretty is considered out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. The Golden Knights are hurting now, with Pacioretty joining Mark Stone, Alex Tuch, and Chandler Stephenson on the injured list. (Jesse Granger on Twitter)

• Sean McIndoe aka “Down Goes Brown” proposes a solution to the NHL’s “loser point” standings system. (The Athletic, sub required)

• If/whenever there’s a postseason, the Flyers could prove to be a formidable foe. (Featurd)

• Are the Boston Bruins actually underrated? (NBC Sports Boston)

• A look at the Golden Knights’ active blueline. (Rotoworld)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL cancels first 60 preseason games

29 Comments

The NHL has announced the cancellation of its first week of preseason games.

The exhibition campaign was set to start on Sunday, Sept. 23 with a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators. That contest, along with 59 others between the 23rd and 30th, have been scrapped as a result of the current work stoppage.

Several high-profile preseason games have been lost as a result, including the much-anticipated Frozen Fury, an annual Los Angeles Kings game held in Las Vegas, NV. (Frozen Fury 15 was set to go on Sept. 29 between the Kings and Avs.)

Other noteworthy games to be cancelled include:

Sept. 25: Minnesota vs. Dallas (was to be played in Boise, ID)

Sept. 26: Columbus vs. Washington (was to be played in Baltimore, MD)

Sept. 27: Edmonton vs. NY Islanders (was to be played in Regina, SK)

In addition, the 2012 Kraft Hockeyville preseason game, scheduled for Oct. 3 in Belleville, Ont., has been postponed to 2013.

(Bringing the overall total to 61.)

Related

Cancelled: Isles-Devils at Barclays Center (make that 62!)

Report: Hockey Canada isn’t on board with Summit Series anniversary game