According to the TSN Insiders, some momentum is gathering among players via message boards and private chats to restart the NHL season in July. As the coronavirus pandemic worsens in the United States and Canada, the early May resumption seems less and less likely, so players and the league are looking at all options to conclude the 2019-2020 season.
The players’ plan, which is far from an official proposal yet, would begin training camps in early July, with regular-season games to follow, and a September Stanley Cup Final, according to TSN reporter Frank Seravalli. Under the current discussion, the 2020 Draft and Free Agency period would be in October, and the 2020-21 season would begin in November.
Next season would be played on a condensed schedule. The league has heard the player’s discussions and is considering a form of the idea, according to Pierre LeBrun, who spoke with at least one NHL Governor. LeBrun also reported there currently isn’t a leading option, but a May restart date is unlikely because a single positive test for coronavirus would again shutter the NHL season.
From the TSN Insiders discussion, one idea which isn’t gaining traction is an expanded playoff format or short play-in series.
“The reason (the players) like (the July-September) idea is because it checks all of the boxes to them,” Seravalli said. “You can’t come back, and all of a sudden have a positive test within the playing group which would derail the situation. In addition, waiting longer allows you to play in front of full buildings. The players don’t want to play for a Stanley Cup that’s going to be awarded in front of an empty building.”
Most importantly, the full season conclusion would maximize revenue.
TSN reporter Daren Dreger also mentioned Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby could become a leading voice in resumptive efforts.
An abbreviated NHL season with a quick resumption of the playoffs makes the most logistical sense. Still, LeBrun noted at least one GM downplayed that idea because players would train for several weeks for only a few games. That objection makes excellent sense, too. So, we’re probably looking at a full resumption or jumping straight to the playoffs.
As always, follow the money, too. The owners won’t want to take a financial bath on the 2019-2020 season without sharing the dirty bathwater with the players. If the Kentucky Derby can be run in September, so too can the Stanley Cup be awarded in September.
It might be an absolutely crazy autumn, with the NFL, major sporting events, the NHL, and maybe even the NBA all beginning/ending at the same time lest we forget about Major League Baseball, too (sorry, in Pittsburgh that’s too easy to do right now).
As we figure out which solution makes the most sense, bet on the solution, which produces the most revenue. It is the players’ livelihood and the owners’ businesses, after all.
Count us in favor of a modified play-in tournament among the wild-card eligible teams, but that’s probably a pipe dream. If the players are on board, we’ll bet on a full season conclusion in July and playoffs in August.