As the NHL continues to weigh its options amid the COVID-19 pandemic, cancelling the season altogether reportedly isn’t one of them.
During a question-and-answer period as part of a virtual town hall on Tuesday, commissioner Gary Bettman told members of the San Jose Sharks’ business alliance that shutting down the 2019-20 campaign and not handing out the Stanley Cup is “not something I’m even contemplating.”
“I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done,” Bettman said, via Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News. “I don’t want to sound Pollyanna, but cancelling is too easy a solution. That means you stop working hard to do all of the things that we’re doing, and I ultimately believe that there will be an opportunity.”
Over the past few weeks, the U.S. has seen some states begin to open back up. Some Canadian provinces and cities are also beginning to ease restrictions.
“States are re-opening, cities are re-opening,” Bettman said. “And if we do the right things, I think we’ll be able to finish the season.”
The NHL has been on hold since March 12. The biggest question in the game today, aside from whether the league will resume playing, is what a return to play would look like — be it finishing up the regulation season in some fashion (189 games still remain on the docket) or jumping right into an altered playoff scenario.
“We would like to bring a conclusion to this season,” Bettman said. “It’s got to be fair, it’s got to have integrity, and if we have to do it over the summer on some modified basis, then we’ll do it on that basis.”