NHL will study NFL’s example in planning for 2020-21 season

NHL-commissioner-Gary-Bettman-speaks-at-a-news-conference

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a news conference. (John Locher/AP)

The NHL’s post-season, two-city bubble experiment has been successful, with no cases of COVID-19 emerging during the Stanley Cup Playoffs to this point.

But as the league looks ahead to 2021 and how it will conduct what it hopes will be a substantial regular season featuring each of its clubs, the NHL intends to study the success and struggles of another North American league that just resumed: The NFL.

“They think it can help a lot,” Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said during the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. “Really, the NHL feels it has some time here to evaluate its options and with the NFL starting up this week, I think it could be quite instructive because the NFL is starting its season with a limited number of fans in some buildings.”

There are three areas in particular where the NHL is looking to learn from the NFL: What the health experience is of NFL players; how the league manages to deal with positive cases, if any arise, and what the circumstances surrounding those cases were; and the how having fans in the stands unfolds — what has to be done to accommodate it, how does it work in practice and what the fans’ reactions are.

“I do think the NHL does feel it is in a beneficial position because there’s tonnes of uncertainty still about what 2020-21 will look like,” Johnston added. “But these other leagues are going to go ahead before them.”

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