NHL Commissioner Gary Betman said on Saturday that it should come as no surprise if the next season starts in December or January 2021.
Speaking at his annual State of the League address before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, he said the NHL had begun to “think informally” about the 2020-21 season options, but had not made definitive decisions due to uncertainty. COVID-19 pandemic.
“December. 1 is always a notional date. I would not be surprised if it slips after December and slips into January, ”Betman said. “But it doesn’t make sense right now to make definite comments on our plans, because there is still a lot we don’t know.
“We have to do the same thing to get ready to play again: explore all the options, be flexible and smart enough to run when the time is right.”
When the league announced its return-to-play plan for the 2019-20 season in July, it was part of the announcement of a provisional start date of December 1 for the 2020-21 campaign. However, it is still unclear how the league will return after the end of the post-season at the Edmonton Bubble, including the US-Canada border state – a topic of special importance to the NHL given the seven teams north of the border.
Betman said he was looking forward to playing the full season, including the 82-game campaign and playoffs in 2020-21, and that “his priority is to stay away from the summer as much as possible”.
Another of the many uncertainties is whether the league will be allowed to allow fans, as is allowed in some European soccer leagues and NFL stadiums. While Betman reiterated that it was too early to tell what the next season would be like, he speculated that the campaign would end in stages.
“How we start has nothing to do with how we’re going to finish,” Betman told fans in the NHL arena. “So we’re going to do ulate haganas – and it’s pure ulation haganas, I’m just throwing it away as a random idea – we’ve started without fans, we’re socially distant fans at some point in time and going to some may open our buildings.”
The Stanley Cup final between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning ends on September 30. The NHL off-season begins immediately with the 2020 draft, which takes place from October 6-7 and begins on October 9 with the free agency.