Gary Bettman appeared on a virtual panel discussion on Tuesday along with MLB commissioner Rob Manred and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. At the 2020 Paley International Council Summit chat, the NHL commissioner revealed several avenues the league was exploring to play next season.
While pulling off the 2020 playoffs in a bubble was hard, playing the 2020-21 regular season may be an even more difficult needle to thread as the league cannot afford and is unwilling to do a full bubble solution again. The league is currently aiming to start the season on January 1, 2021, but some owners, such as the Golden Knights’ Bill Foley, believe that the start date will be pushed back into February.
According to NHL.com’s Nicholas Cotsonika, Bettman said that teams will either play in their own arenas, with or without fans, or in hubs. There’s also the potential for a hybrid system of both.
“You’ll play for 10 to 12 days,” Bettman explained of a possible hub system. “You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need.
“It’s not going to be quite as effective as a bubble, but we think we can, if we go this route, minimize the risks to the extent practical and sensible. And so that’s one of the things that we’re talking about.”
Bettman also revealed that the league is contemplating a “reduced schedule,” which syncs with Bill Foley’s prediction that the league will end up playing a 48- to 56-game regular season. Bettman also called the travel schedule “the great unknown” and says the league may “temporarily realign to deal” with a US/Canada border closure, meaning an all-Canadian division, in this scenario, is likely.
“We may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, and that may make sense, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense,” Bettman said.
“It may be that we’re better off, particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating, keeping it geographically centric, more divisional based, and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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