By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The National Hockey League is willing to play the long game.
And even with the league’s self-quarantining period extended once again on Tuesday — this time through Apr. 30 (these dates are meaningless, in case you haven’t caught on yet) — the league remains focused on what they do for the 2019-20 season. So much so that they’re willing to delay the 2020-21 season if it means awarding the Stanley Cup this summer.
According to Pierre LeBrun, that would mean pushing the start of the next season from October to November, canceling every team’s bye week and the All-Star Game, and then playing the playoffs into late June 2021. That would be a one-year tweak that would create some pain next season but essentially allow the NHL to return to normalcy for the 2021-22 season.
That desire to return to normalcy is a sentiment shared by everybody in the world right now, really, as the COVID-19 pandemic has paused our entire way of life, and with no set end date in sight.
The lack of clarity when it comes to knowing when it’s safe to resume life itself will eventually become an issue for the NHL when it comes to salvaging this season, though sources have indicated to LeBrun that a decision on the future of the currently-paused season will not have to be made until the next month at the earliest. Again, long game.
The Flyers’ Kevin Hayes, meanwhile, seems to think that the league is shooting for a return sometime around July 15. The circumstances surrounding that — in terms of scheduling, regular-season resumption, locations, playoff formatting and literally everything else in between — remains a complete mystery because nobody knows anything right now.
And we won’t for the foreseeable future.
“We’re looking at all options; nothing’s been ruled in, nothing’s been ruled out,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in an interview with NBC’s Mike Tirico last week. “And it’s largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on as well.”
The season paused with the Bruins atop the standings as the league’s only 100-point squad.