I hope you all are doing well and staying safe out there as we’re over a month into the official quarantine.
It’s been fun watching the Sabres Classics that they’ve been airing on MSG each weeknight, but there was some talk on Wednesday that the NHL may be looking to have games played in July, with an actual plan starting to take place.
JUST IN: NHL looking at restarting season in July.
Games would be played at 4 or 5 neutral sites with limited or no fans, according to Florida Panthers president Matt Caldwell.
On the conference call, he said this plan is not finalized.
— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) April 22, 2020
Andy’s tweet says “restarting,” but surely the season wouldn’t actually restart, but rather resume. It’d be a little surprising for the league to want to resume the regular season as well as playoffs, but there are a number of teams in the standings still fighting for a playoff spot.
Latest push is for NHL to return to 2-4 of its arenas in areas where the COVID-19 outbreak has been managed and restrictions would allow it. Very much targeting completion of the regular season. No timetable. NHLPA needs to sign off on any of it.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) April 22, 2020
I had imagined the Sabres season to be over, but after reading how strongly the NHL feels about completing the regular season, maybe we will get 13 more Sabres games after all. It’s too bad Buffalo is 13 points out of a playoff spot, but the bigger thing is that we’d have some kind of hockey back, even though it may not entirely be the same.
Not only does the NHL want to complete the regular season and then have playoffs, but before all of that, they want time for the players to get some work in.
“There needs to be at least three weeks of training camp. When the players come back, they want to be in, and we want them to be in, game-ready shape.” – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to Sportsnet
That’s a long span of time stretching from training camp until the Stanley Cup Final. It’s possible that playoff series may be shorter than a best-of-seven, but that’s a long time in the summer to be playing. The NHL has also made it clear that they do not want to push back the start of next season, either.
The NHL’s current plan is to have four NHL rinks around the country, one dedicated to each division, but they have to get approval and everything in order to make it feasible. The stands would likely be empty or have a limited amount of fans.
The NHL is focusing on one arena per division for their current restart plan. Carolina (Metropolitan), Edmonton (Pacific), and Minnesota (Central) are the front-runners to host games. (Greg Wyshynski/Elliotte Friedman) pic.twitter.com/weWWzDKEJJ
— Flyers Nation 2.0 (@FlyersNation20) April 22, 2020
It appears Florida may be the Atlantic Division’s neutral site if everything ends up working out.
We’ll see what happens with this, but right now, the NHL is trying to have games played in the next few months. Hopefully they can work something out and we’ll keep updating the site as we learn more.