No one knows what is going to happen to the NHL season because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that doesn’t stop anyone from theorizing. A lot of ideas are bouncing around, most of which involve summer hockey.
Hey, we in Tampa Bay already watch hockey in warm weather, so why not?
“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,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the website the Athletic.
A group of “superstar” players have come up with an idea to resume the season that involves August-September playoffs, Canadian sports network TSN reported. It sounds weird, but just might work.
There are projections from health experts that a return to normal could take until July or August. With that in mind, the thought of resuming play in May or June seems ambitious.
Maybe a May return is possible, either in an empty arena or with a small crowd. But if someone gets sick, it will shut things down again and probably for good.
Starting the playoffs in August could avoid overlap with the Olympics, still scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9 and be broadcast on NBC and its other networks. And NBC clearly does not want Olympic overlap.
The idea of the players — whom the TSN story didn’t identify — features training camps in early July, finishing some of the regular season in late July, two months of playoffs, then the draft, free agency and 2020-21 training camps in October. Next season would start in November, with a condensed schedule still with 82 games.
Why are regular-season games needed? Two reasons.
One: to even out the standings. Even if all teams don’t play 82 games, they could play the same amount. Right now the totals range from 68 to 71.
Two: Players want a warmup. Anyone coming back from an injury tells you that practice doesn’t replicate game action. Players don’t want to go straight into the playoffs after four or five months without action.
But there are also reasons not to play regular-season games. Playing them would mean some teams — and some already have been eliminated from playoff contention — would reassemble and have a mini training camp, just to play a few games and disband again.
Under the players’ plan, the 2020-21 season could start in November without being shortened in number of games. It would mean no All-Star Game or bye week, and condensing the game schedule. November and December would look more like the tight February and March most teams play.
There’s not saying this idea will happen.
“We don’t know how long we’re going to be in pause and what the world’s going to look like over the next couple of days, hours, weeks,” Daly said.
Contact Diana C. Nearhos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @dianacnearhos.