Brad Treliving’s spidey-senses are telling him hockey fans will return from the long weekend with some good news to look forward to.
“I think there’s momentum,” said the Calgary Flames GM Thursday. “No state secrets here, but I do sense some momentum that next week there could be at least a preliminary plan put in place for where we go.
“Everything is going to be subject to whether we can execute the plan. We can say we’re going camping next weekend, but if it rains we probably won’t. But I do suspect we’re going to hear some news next week on two big issues right now relative to a plan of what a potential restart would look like, and the draft.”
Treliving peppered his optimism with the same sort of caveat Alberta’s premier included weeks before he decided at the last minute to postpone plans to re-open Calgary restaurants, salons and other businesses as originally hoped for Thursday: COVID-19 may have other plans.
Treliving seems to think the league is getting close to releasing target dates for a return so the wheels can be put into motion for an eventual return of players from around the globe.
The Canadian government has a two-week quarantine in place for anyone landing in Canada, which the Prime Minister said he would not amend for NHL players. Nor should he.
“I think there are discussions going on with both federal governments in terms of just, ‘here’s what we’re thinking and here’s a plan in place,’” said Treliving.
“We monitor (the rules on protocols) daily and that’s one thing the league takes into consideration. As you build these timelines there‘s so much you’ve got to put into the mix. So, if you want to start on this date, you’ve got to say, ‘well, what are all the things we’ve got to cover off before we can get to that date. Number one is the ability to get into the country. The access – or lack thereof – of getting through the borders. Number two is getting through a certain quarantine period.”
Given the absence of a vaccine for COVID-19, the odds are still long the NHL can pull this off this summer. Yet, commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated earlier this week he has every intention of completing this season, even if it means playing through the summer and wrapping up as late as October or November.
You can bet the league will be keeping a close eye on other sports as they attempt to return, like the Bundesliga, which resumes Saturday.
In a vastly different approach, France’s Ligue 1 has cancelled the rest of its season.
Endless playoff formats have been bandied about at the league-level, as have possibilities surrounding a completion – or partial completion – of the balance of the regular season schedule.
The only plausible plan would be for games to be played in empty arenas in a handful of cities hosting seven or eight teams.
A logistical nightmare.
“They’ve still got to go through the Players’ Association and all the different government bodies,” said Treliving of another layer the league is wading through. “Again, I caution everyone that it’s all subject to making sure health-wise and medically-wise it can be achieved with everyone’s safety in mind. It’s all got a big asterisk beside it until you get medical clearance.”