If you are anything like me, you probably have been spending the past month and a half staring at a wall. Eventually, watching all the reruns of great sporting events can get boring. So we sit at our kitchen tables refreshing our twitter feeds until we see something positive on the sports front.
Today we did end up receiving optimistic news on the NHL for once. We learned that teams could be returning to practice as soon as mid-May. Along with that we learned that the NHL could decide to start the 2020-2021 season as late as December.
What the NHL is saying by making these two decisions is that they are not willing to part with the entirety of the 2019-2020 season just yet. So how might the rest of the season play out?
The NHL has made it known that they would make sure that every team had at least a three-week training camp before the resumption of the regular season. The NHL’s original play was to restart the regular season in late June to early July. If every team could be allowed to practice by mid to late May, that timeline could be a very realistic possibility, barring any major setbacks with the pandemic itself. If the season does start in late June to early July, it is possible that the NHL will not need to push back the start of next season all the way back to December, but maybe November could be a realistic option.
As for what the season might look like when it eventually restarts, it looks like each team will get an opportunity to finish the regular season, which would mean there would not be a need to change the playoff format. However, if time gets tight and there is a quicker end to the regular season, we could potentially see multiple one-and-done playoff games to those teams that are right on the bubble of making the playoffs.
Now where the games are played could get a bit interesting. The NHL has decided that they do not want to play in non-NHL arenas so some teams will have to open their arenas eventually. The NHL is looking for a team from each division to host games, so the cities in which games would be held would have to be deemed safe enough to at least hold a game with limited to no fans. The Boston Bruins are one team who have expressed interest in opening the TD Garden to regular season and playoff games when deemed safe.
It does seem that with every passing day a return to the NHL season seems more and more likely. Although we are at least a couple months away from seeing potential in game action, it is evident the NHL is doing everything they can to bring back the season. Obviously the safety of the people and the players are at the forefront of every decision they make when it comes to bringing back the season, so if it is deemed unsafe, then any efforts to bring back the season will be terminated, but due to the fact that things are developing, it looks like there could be a light at the end of the tunnel.