Bill Daly talks NHL playoff ideas, player testing, salary cap impact

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly joined Good Show and spoke about the many possibilities open to the league should they return to play this season, and if he has a playoff format in mind.

The truest thing anyone can say these days is that no one knows what’s going to happen next.

One week after the NHL paused its 2019-20 season, people all over are coming up with wild scenarios of what the league could do to finish a season once the all-clear is given by the medical community that it’s safe to resume. Could we see a Stanley Cup awarded in July, August or even later?

And then there are the business implications in terms of the salary cap outlook, or how trades made with conditions will play out.

Not even the league has solid answers for all of these questions yet, but they’re certainly considering their options right now. Not until this lockdown starts to break will we start getting an idea of what is really on, or off, the table.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly joined Good Show on Thursday morning to talk about some of these questions, and more, as we all sit in self-isolation dreaming and thinking of an eventual return.

What can really be planned with so much uncertainty at this time…

“You need to have everything on the table. You need to understand what would be feasible in a certain set of circumstances and what’s impossible in various circumstances. It’s really just understanding the possibilities and the landscape and then as things get decided and we move along and we understand a little bit better where we are and where we’re going to be, then you start kind of picking options.

On the possibility of returning to a playoff format that has less than eight teams per conference…

“In the shower this morning I was thinking about that. I haven’t reduced it to writing, I haven’t put it on a piece of paper, I haven’t discussed it with the commissioner or with Colin Campbell, so literally it’s me just thinking through, well, if we really have a very short window could we go with a four-team tournament? Is that a possibility? I haven’t run it up the flagpole so I don’t even know. Given the uncertain nature of where we are you have to consider everything.”

On if there is a drop-dead date to cancel the season by…

“My only parameter that I’ve been proceeding on the assumption of, which I think is firm — but again in this uncertain world I won’t rule out anything — is that I think there’s an objective that we share to ensure that whatever we do will allow us to accommodate a full season for next season. So whatever that means, that is the assumption I’m proceeding with.”

On if that means a season could start in November or later, and still run its regular length…

“I could say theoretically I’m not averse to that idea, but there are a lot of practical considerations that we’d have to go through the process of working through. I’m very much in the mode of I’m not ruling out anything.”

On if ice conditions are a worry in some markets if hockey is to be played in the summer months…

“We’re in the 21st Century now and while some buildings perhaps don’t have the same capability as others in producing top, top, top, quality ice, I think most of our buildings are pretty good and where we have deficiencies we’re able to fill those deficiencies at warm times of year, so I don’t think ice making is really a consideration at all.”

On how much time it would take to bring everyone back together and prepare for a season resumption…

“Our managers have a good sense of what they think would be necessary in terms of ramp-up time, training time. A lot will depend on, like everything else, what transpires between now and then. Is a 7-10 day training camp or mini-training camp enough to resume a season in certain circumstances, and for the next little while I think it would be. If you’re talking about a resumption in August I’m not sure it would be. It probably depends on what access to ice players have had before to do their own workouts as they normally do in preparation of a normal NHL season. A lot is going to depend on how things play out.”

On if every player will be tested for COVID-19 by the time the league resumes…

“I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s even practical. The medical advice continues to be against mass testing of the population. Really, testing is only recommended for people once they experience symptoms and become symptomatic. That’s due in part to the shortage of testing resources, but I think it’s also essentially the medical practice and the medical advice that a negative test when you’re not symptomatic doesn’t really tell you much because it doesn’t stop you from becoming symptomatic the next day and being positive two days later. Testing is not a factor at all for us.”

On the impact this will all have on the salary cap…

“We’ve thought about everything. So, of course, the disruption of the season is going to affect the generation of revenues and what we end up with in HRR (hockey-related revenues) and the formula we have in our CBA to formulate a cap. Having said that, all of those items I just mentioned are really products of negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA. And when we get to the end of this and when we understand what we’re looking at and what we’re trying to accomplish, obviously we’re going to sit down with the NHLPA we’re going to have to negotiate a transition to what we’re trying to accomplish. That is clearly something that is in our future, but I think both sides recognize that and welcome that challenge. We’ll be happy to be in that position to work through those issues.”

On if the NHL would come back at the same time as the NBA, MLB and other sports leagues…

“I can’t say we’ve had that discussion with the other sports leagues. I’d say we’ve had a good level of co-operation. We do have frequent contact and the ability to run ideas off each other. But I don’t think we’re linked in the way of having to do what each other decides to do. It may work out that way for obvious reasons, but that certainly is not been necessarily how we’ve agreed to proceed.”

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