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NHL discusses contingency plans during Board of Governors conference call

Can the NHL salvage the remainder of the season

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Vancouver Canucks Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it’s nearly impossible for businesses to plan for when they can start working back to normalcy - the NHL is no different. In a step to discuss contingency plans, Gary Bettman and league executives held a conference call with the Board of Governors this past Monday.

On the call, the league discussed a number of different possibilities to conclude the season, including the potential of playing games through the summer and into September.

Darren Dreger of TSN is reporting that the league is still hoping to conclude this season but that they are committed to “playing a full 82 game season next year”. The second part of that makes things a lot more difficult. In order to play a full 82 games, next season would need to get started no later than mid-November - that means training camp before the end of October.

That would be very little time for an offseason if the league were to “play into September” as Dreger suggests.

In order to get a full scope of the timeline they could be working with, an infectious disease consultant was brought onto the call to brief the BOGs. Dreger reports that the health care specialist gave the owners a “reality check” when it comes to trying to plan for the future. The NHL has been told that there’s no way to project a timeline right now and that things have to be taken day-by-day - a fact that undoubtedly leads to a lot of unrest when it comes to a group trying to plan the future of their business operations.

The next step for the NHL is a similar call with all of the General Managers on Tuesday. The GMs will be given the opportunity to ask any and all questions about hockey operations. Some topics of discussion will be; when the draft will take place, the impact of the current standings on draft order, playoff expansion, and how free agents will be handled under the assumption that July 1 won’t be the start of the new “hockey year”.

Like the rest of us, the NHL has to take things day by day. Reports like this suggest that while the NHL really wants to award the Stanley Cup in 2020, they still have no real idea how that can be accomplished.

If next year is the priority, it’s hard to see how the league can make the 2020 playoffs work. The players association would have to agree to a very short offseason and the elimination of the bye week and all-star break next season - things that cause a whole new group of issues from a player fatigue/health perspective.

We’re still at least a couple weeks away from knowing anything for certain. Given the state of North American society right now, things could change drastically at any given time. As of now, the league is working to gather as much information as possible so that when the time comes, they can make the right choice for the league, players and fans.


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