The NHL’s deputy commissioner says the league has yet to establish a concrete “drop-dead date” as to when the 2019-20 campaign must be cancelled, and is still “hopeful” it can work something out to salvage the season.
In an appearance on Tim & Sid on Friday, Bill Daly said the NHL has discussed a date when the league must close the book on the 2019-20 campaign, which has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still many options left on the table, so long as they don’t interfere with 2020-21.
“I can’t tell you what that date is and, obviously, with the Summer Olympics having been moved — at minimum for a year to 2021 — does present an opportunity for us that might not have otherwise presented itself previously — to play late summer,” said Daly.
“That’s, obviously, something we’ll have to be aligned on with the Players’ Association, we want to get in a full season — uninterrupted season — for 2021.”
Daly said the league is working off its timeline for next season to see how much breathing room remains for 2019-20.
“We have an idea in mind for how late that season could start and then we could work back, like: How much time do you need for an off-season? When do you have to award the Stanley Cup? What do the Stanley Cup Playoffs look like in that scenario? What does training camp look like in that scenario? What does opening facilities to players look like in that scenario? So we’ve started to get our arms around the different timetables,” he said.
Earlier this week, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman suggested the league could bypass the rest of the regular season to find time to award the Stanley Cup.
The league hit pause on March 12 with 189 games remaining and teams having played an uneven amount of times. There were also close races for the post-season in both conferences.
Bettman said the NHL is also exploring the concept of hosting games at neutral sites should some teams not be allowed to return to their home arenas.
“We’re looking at all options. Nothing’s been ruled in. Nothing’s been ruled out,” he said during an interview on NBCSN.
“The best thing and the easiest thing would be if at some point we could complete the regular season and then go into the playoffs as we normally do. We understand that may not be possible. And that’s why we’re considering every conceivable alternative to deal with whatever the eventuality is.”
Even though the NHL playoffs were scheduled to open Wednesday and a return to normalcy from the effects of the novel coronavirus remains to be seen, Daly said the league can still find plenty of ways to revive the season.
“There’s a lot of fluidity here, but I continue to believe there’s a lot of optionality, too,” said Daly.
“So, we’re still in the stage where we’re hopeful we can work something out.
With files from The Associated Press.