Start of next NHL season still up for grabs

Rogers Place in Edmonton hosted this year's odd Stanley Cup Final situation.

Photo Via IQRemix Under the Creative Commons License

Rogers Place in Edmonton hosted this year’s odd Stanley Cup Final situation.

This past NHL season concluded on September 28, with the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Dallas Stars in six games to win the Stanley Cup (click here to view stats from game six of Stanley Cup Finals). Before advancing to the Stanley Cup, the Dallas Stars won the Western Conference, which was being played in a bubble in Edmonton. The Tampa Bay lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup by winning the Eastern Conference in a bubble in Toronto.

Video Via fourtraxer Under the Creative Commons License

The question now remains, when will the next NHL season be played? As of right now, there is no official word of when the NHL will play the 2020-2021 season. NHL Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said “We are not far along in planning for the next year, nor do we need to be”. Teams across the league are mostly ready just in case the NHL quickly reveals plans on the oncoming season.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman wants to keep the 2020-2021 season as normal as possible, and he also wants to keep the 82 game schedule. Bettman said “Looking at the schedule, making some adjustments, we believe we can play a full season, and if we run a little later than usual, that may be one of the consequences”. 

In early September the NHL and NHL Players Association agreed to a December 1, start date for the 2020-2021 season and a start date of November 27, for the training camps. As of right now it does not look like that is going to happen. If the start date continues to get pushed back, the likelihood of a full season will be even less. 

There have been many rumors as to what the future holds for this coming NHL season. One NHL executive anticipates a 60 to 65 game season starting in January. Another executive predicts a baseline season of 70 games. The Anaheim Ducks President of Business Operations, Aaron Teats, thinks that this next season has some flexibility. Deats said “There is a tentative December 1 date, but there is also the desire to play in front of as many fans as possible. We are all hopeful that can be full buildings”. 

The NHL has time to make a decision on this next NHL season. When coming up with plans about the return-to-play this summer, the NHL waited until the last possible moment to finalize the details on it. Bill Daly on the topic said “We also have the benefit of being able to observe what happens over the next several weeks and months with respect to the fall sports and college sports and European leagues, how everything kind of shakes out around the world, really, in terms of live sporting events and how they’re conducted”.

The Chicago Blackhawks have one of the most electric fan bases, hopefully their rink can be filled soon again. (Photo Via Hendrik Seis Under the Creative Commons License)

Getting fans back in the seats of all NHL arenas is a goal the league has. As of right now, there is no official word saying if fans will be allowed to watch the games from in the rinks. But, one NHL team executive said that their team has 3 options when regarding fans. The first option would be no fans allowed, obviously that is not ideal. The second scenario would be to start off with no fans, then up to 50%, and then up to 90%. The third and final option would be that the arena would open up with 50% of fans, then go up to 70%, and then up to 90%.