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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman did a video conference interview on Monday citing options for the continuation of the season. Bettman said that the NHL is considering “probably eight or nine different places” that can accommodate a dozen or so teams in one location. Bettman is super optimistic to conclude this 2019-20 regular and postseason.
Bettman stated, “We’d like to complete this season….We’d like to award the Stanley Cup. And our fans are telling us overwhelmingly that’s what they’d like us to do, because people have an emotional investment in this season already.”
The NHL has been put on halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic which started on March 12th. All of the 31 teams completed 68-71 games out of the 82-game regular season. It’s been two months of the world being idle and searching for answers to continue life safely.
“I don’t think anybody has a fixed timetable, particularly in North America right now,” Bettman said. “We have been working very hard since we took the pause on March 12th to make sure that whatever the timing is, whatever the sequencing is, whatever physical ability we have in terms of locations to play, that we’re in a position to execute any or all of those options. There is still a great deal of uncertainty.”
As for the locations, it will likely be centralized around a NHL arena that’s fully functional and is able to provide enough space for multiple teams and staff members. It must include a city with enough hotel space with access to COVID-19 testing on site.
“I am told that there can be enough capacity, and certainly over the next couple of months, there will be more capacity,” Bettman explained, “But that is a fundamental question and we certainly can’t be jumping the line in front of medical needs.”
Until all these needs are met by the NHL and NHLPA, the season will still remain in a limbo state. Everyone wants the season to end with one team hoisting the Stanley Cup but in terms of safety, the public is more important.
When games do comeback, the presence of no-fans will be something of a new reality for the next coming months.