NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who at one point, wasn't sure the season could continue, has now reaffirmed that he wasn't remotely considering canceling the season. SI's Madelyn Burke is joined by The Hockey News Matt Larkin to discuss solutions for the NHL to resume its season going forward.
Read the full transcript below:
Madelyn Burke: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman dismissed the idea that the league will not be able to resume its season and award the Stanley Cup saying a canceled season is, quote, "not something I'm even contemplating." Joining me now to discuss this further is Matt Larken, senior writer at The Hockey News. Matt, what are some realistic solutions here?
Matt Larkin: Well, it's interesting. I was talking also to Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly a couple of days ago, and the NHL is nowhere near any cancelation scenario. There's still full steam ahead with "return to play" ideas. I think what we've seen the idea morph into you right now is if you look a couple of weeks back, the NHL was still adamant about trying to finish the regular season. Then you have to factor in the time for training camp and for exhibition schedule. Then playing out about a dozen regular-season games per team, and that means involving 31 teams. What we're seeing now is adapting on the fly, going back to the proposed idea of a 2014 play-in tournament. That means you're jumping directly to the playoffs with 24 teams to some 31 teams involved. So you're cutting off a lot of the regular season scheduled time, which means you can start the season a little bit later and still be finished in time to get next season started.
Madelyn Burke: Right, as you mentioned, the next season is coming up, and the longer we wait to start up this season again, the further we push into next year's league calendar. So, at what point does cancelation need to be taken into consideration?
Matt Larkin: Well, there is a drop-dead date, and we know that the Stanley Cup for this season has to be awarded by the end of the calendar year. It still has to be the 2020 Stanley Cup. So, you know, that's the latest things can go. To get there, it appears, you know the league does the playoffs, it's going to be a full playoff schedule. We know Stanley Cup playoffs take multiple months, which means that I think we're looking at September, October. You've got to be playing those games no later than September, October. If we get to near the end of the summer and players are not on the ice playing games, I think it's done.
Madelyn Burke: And we've seen game cancelations before, of course, amid labor negotiations and an NHL lockout, so we'll see how long this can continue in a global pandemic. Matt Larken, thanks so much for the insight.