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Hockey fans around the world are awaiting the official confirmed date for the start of the NHL’s next season. There’s been multiple league wide reports that a few owners have spoken to Commissioner Gary Bettman, stating that it might be better off shutting down the season all together for financial reasons.
Other sports like the NFL get most of their revenue from media outlets for broadcasting games and the NHL doesn’t have that same ability. Commissioner Bettman responded by saying that in the league’s past lockout shortened seasons, it tremendously slowed the sport and would also impact the longevity of the league financially.
With that being said, the NHL will probably resume play sometime in January of 2021, as was agreed to on October 6th by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association. The target date for resumption of play for next season is January 1st.
The league has done a good job with communicating the next steps to the general managers and board of governors. That effort includes a conversation with Don Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA for what the players would like to have and see for next season’s plans.
With reports stating that the NHL will play no fewer than 48 games for next season and will return to the original Stanley Cup final format with 16 teams, the biggest ongoing question for fans is how will the NHL home venues balance limited fan capacity at games? Surely fans will want to be in-person, cheering on their respective teams and the league has been adamant on making this a necessity.
“I think the ultimate goal is to end up with fans in the arenas. I don’t think we’ll get to capacity, but I think we’ll have enough socially distanced fans,” said an NHL source.
With hopes to get arenas to full capacity for the 2020-21 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as long as their local restrictions don’t prevent it, the NHL is really just in the waiting phase. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly had this to say:
“It’s premature to be drawing up plans [when] you don’t have a real good idea as to whether they’re practical, feasible or going to be put in place,” Daly said. “At some point, we have to do it. But I think to this point, it’s been the general sentiment that we don’t know enough yet to get more granular than we’ve been.”
So, with that being said, as Gary Bettman stated: “the league doesn’t have to finish the season as it starts it. The plan can be adjusted on the fly.”
Be on the lookout for more important news as it relates to the start of the NHL 2020-21 season.