The NHL’s 2019-20 season has yet to wrap up, but the league already is thinking about next season.
The league finds itself about four months off schedule after shutting down in March due to COVID-19. The Stanley Cup Final began Saturday night, and likely will wrap up by the first week of October.
At the moment, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman thinks the upcoming season could start either later in December or in January. The goal, he said, would be to avoid holding the playoffs deep into summertime.
“If there’s an option to consider, believe me, we’re considering it,” Bettman said during his pre-Stanley Cup Final press conference, via The Associated Press’ Stephen Whyno. “It’s conceivable that we start without fans, that we move to socially distant fans at some point and by some point in time maybe our buildings are open.”
Fans have not been in the stands at NHL games since the league resumed play Aug. 1 after a four-month hiatus. The lack of in-house revenue will be a major blow for all teams, but NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly doesn’t think it will force any organization to fold.
“We’re going to see what the circumstances are like and do the best we can,” he said. “We certainly want to maximize efforts to create circumstances where fans can attend our games and we can wait a certain amount of time to try to accommodate that. But at the end of the day, we also want to play a season, so we’re going to see what circumstance are like and make decisions when we need to make decisions.”
“Our goal is to get back to as great a sense of normalcy as possible under whatever circumstances are presented,” Bettman said.
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