The 2019-20 NHL season started on 2 October 2019 and only ended on 28 October. September 2020, thanks to a break of almost five months due to the KOVID 19 pandemic. Usually we discuss our pick-up rides for the first month on the second day of the month. November, but earlier in the middle of the season, in the rear-view mirror – project 2020 and most of the free desk.
There is some uncertainty about the start date of the 2020-21 season and what it will look like at that time. After discussions with competition and team officials and other NHL sources, we’ve known what we know – and what we don’t – since early November.
Where is the NHL planning for the 2020-21 season?
Greg Wyszynski: The sixth. On 1 October, the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association announced that they were planning the start of the 2020-21 season on 1 January 2021, when it was originally scheduled to begin. December of this year.
The NHL has kept the Board of Governors and the Governors informed of progress. She spoke with the NHLPA, including CEO Don Fehr, about the players’ wishes for the next season. On Friday, the NHL did not have a negotiation meeting with the return of a dozen players to the NHLPA players committee, but there was a meeting with a representative of the NHLPA on that committee.
It’s premature to make plans if you don’t have good ideas about whether they’re practical, achievable or operational, said Assistant Commissioner Bill Daly at ESPN last week. We have to do this sometime. But I think the general feeling so far was that we didn’t know enough to get more grainy than we were.
The mantra of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is that the 2020-21 season should not end the way it starts. Background: The NHL is very hopeful that one day this season the fans will return to their arenas.
I think the ultimate goal is to end up with the fans in the arena. I don’t think we’ll reach capacity, but I think we’ll have enough socially dispersed fans, said an NHL source.
While the NHL hopes spectator numbers will be limited for part of the regular season, sources tell ESPN that they are afraid for fans to return to the arena to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs when local restrictions allow.
The concert halls and events are already full for spring and summer – why not for hockey?
What are the deadlines for next season?
Vyshynski: On the 12th. On 6 March, the NHL suspended the 2019-20 season and on 6 March 2010, the NHL announced a new season. July: the details of phase 3 (the so-called training camp) are known. The Tampa Bay Lightning won on the 28th. September: the Stanley Cup. Daly believes it will take less time for the NHL to understand the details of the 2020-21 season.
Nevertheless, it will be urgent for the clubs and the arenas – and there are – to know what to prepare for and not to prepare for. So, you know, I think everyone understands that there’s a certain urgency to plan something, but you can’t rush into planning, he said.
Don’t forget that bubble planning also involves complex collective bargaining.
In what way do these negotiations on the next season’s set-up differ from those in the run-up to the restart of the 2019-20 season?
Vyshinsky: Discussions between the NHL, the owners and players that led to the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles focused on two things: providing a new cost-benefit analysis that could help plan the financial path through the COVID-19 economic crisis, and developing the surest way to end the 2019-20 season at a time when it was impossible to have fans in the play-off arenas.
In other words, their options were limited.
When they start these conversations, it’s a completely different landscape. Owners and players have a new cost-benefit analysis. Restrictions on KOVID-19 have been relaxed in many places, as other professional sports and entertainment events have led to a limited return of fans to the stadiums. In June, the NHL could tell their teams how we’re doing, and they couldn’t say much to counteract that. Numerous sources tell ESPN that they expect much more discussion and debate in preparation for the 2020-21 season, especially about when and how fans can return to the NHL arena.
Think of the Dallas Stars. They reached the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 20 years and didn’t get a penny out of ticket sales for those matches because they were played in the Edmonton Bubble. (They had a couple of one-hour parties at the American Airline Center). Owner Tom Gaglardi runs Canada’s largest family business, and his North American company has been severely affected by the failures of COVID 19.
Gaglardi wants the fans to return to the star games as soon as possible. In addition to the financial baths he took and the playoff income he didn’t receive, he saw the Dallas Cowboys open up to 25% of their capacity to play outside (at home).
The latest NFL data show a large market segment with limited fan capacity from Florida to Pennsylvania, Ohio to Tennessee, Colorado to Texas, Arizona to Arizona. But some states, like California, have opened up more slowly.
The ultimate goal of the 2020-21 NHL season is to get the teams back into their own arenas and play for their fans, especially in the playoffs. The question is when and how it happens, and there may not be an answer before the season starts.
As Bettman said, the league shouldn’t mean the end of the season as it began. The plan may be adjusted in the short term if local capacity constraints, national constraints at the Canadian border and the progress of KOVID-19 allow.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Although the stars have long since reached the Stanley Cup finals, the club doesn’t see the kind of financial trick that would normally accompany such a success. Getty Images
What are the players doing now to prepare for next season?
Emily Kaplan: As a veteran told me last week, the uncertainty about when the real matches will be played again was a mental problem for many boys.
We’re creatures of habit, the player said. We know when to train and how to prepare for the season. I don’t know when to report, but I know that some guys still can’t be on the ice regularly due to local restrictions, and it’s just that our whole schedule has been reset – it’s a challenge for many guys to get into a good rhythm.
The NHL allowed teams to use their training base from the 15th century onwards. October for the training of volunteers. However, there is a 19-page document that takes into account both the social distance and the increased health and safety measures. A team must warn at least five players of the reopening of the training facilities for volunteers and a maximum of 12 players may be on the ice at any one time.
Players and employees who participate in voluntary off-season training sessions are tested at least twice a week at KOVID-19. Everyone who has undergone VIDOC-19 also has to undergo a cardiac examination. As of this week, about half of the teams in the league have opened their training base.
After returning to their hometown, players are advised not to skate on one of the public rinks, but to make use of their team’s facilities (provided that their training space is open). However, most players are at home out of season – many of them in Europe – and with the varying degree of blockage around the world, it’s hardly a level playing field.
What happens to teams that have not played since March?
Kaplan: Ah, yes, the number seven. The Sabres, the Senators, the Devils, the Sharks, the Kings, the Ducks and the Red Wings have not been able to participate in the extensive 24-team NHL tournament, so players from those teams have been playing since the NHL closing on the 12th. We don’t walk on the ice together anymore.
Originally there was an indication that these teams could have gotten together before the fair tournament this fall to stay fresh, but for various reasons this never happened. Instead, according to Dali, the league has had important talks with the players’ association and these seven teams should be given extra time for training camps. Although nothing has been completed yet, sources indicate that seven teams could benefit from seven to ten additional training days. The regular training camps will probably last about two weeks.
When do players get paid?
Kaplan: The last time NHL players received their salary was in April, six months without a regular salary.
However, according to the agreement signed this summer between the NHL and the NHLPA, most players were given until the 31st day of the tournament. October 2020-21 8.1% of their wages. (This applies to any player on the roster who has been frozen during an NHL break and is under contract for the upcoming season). After that, the players do not receive any more payments until the beginning of the next season.
If the players are on 1. The teams received bonuses in July. About $300 million was paid out to the players on the first one. July as a bonus, with Toronto Maple Leaves leading the way with about $60 million.
Because the NHL has a conditional deposit system, the players already know that they will score next season. In July, players agreed to postpone 10 percent of their salary for 2020-21 and then put 20 percent of the remaining 90 percent into a blocked account to soften the blow. Players already expect to play for less than their full salary next season.
Fault! The file name is not specified. It is expected that P.K. Subban and the Devils, as well as other teams that did not participate in the season training camp this summer, will have more time to get back in shape. Stephen Kingsman/Icon Sportswire
What can next season look like?
Vyshinsky, chaplain: Let’s start with the obvious: The start date is 1. January, mid January or February – which according to some teams is still possible – will probably mean a shorter season. This could mean an increase to 65 games or 48 games, as we have seen in the break seasons. According to the sources of the league, the current 48. playing season is the absolute minimum.
After the shortened regular season, the traditional Stanley Cup tournament with 16 teams awaits you. In the summer, the NHL invited 24 teams to their post-season, but this may have been a special exception to Bettman’s playoff rule.
We want to make the tournament as traditional as possible. Of course we want the playoffs to remain competitive, said Daly, who did not rule out an extensive off-season, but stressed that this is not being considered at the moment.
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There are two reasons why the NHL wants to end the shortened season and the traditional post-season tournament as soon as possible. The NHL’s top priority is to secure the 2021-22 season, in which Seattle Cracken will make its debut and, with 82 games, will be the first to benefit from the new U.S. television rights agreement. However, it is also proposed that the NHL finish its season before the start of the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo on 23 January. July.
Daley underestimated the latter as a catalyst.
I think there’s some flexibility if we go down that road. According to him there is still a lot to do on the Olympic front. We have models that extend the Olympic period. These are the alternatives on the table. I can’t say they’re the ones who will inevitably be prosecuted, but I think there’s some flexibility.
According to various sources, different owners have suggested to Bettman that the league could be in a better financial situation if it were closed next season, as games in empty arenas can be devastating to the core. The NHL is still a targeted competition compared to a competition such as the NFL, which derives most of its revenue from media rights. Bettman replied that the NHL could not lose the season because it was too damaging in the long run, as the league had already learned during the lock-out periods. So chances are that next season there will be a version of the NHL, even if it will be different from the version we are used to.
Do I need to perform tests daily?
Kaplan: Daily testing is the hallmark of the extensive NHL tournament, with 24 participating teams this summer. In two months, the league tested 33,394 teams for COVID-19 and received no confirmed positive cases, which greeted the league as a great victory. But it wasn’t cheap. The NHL summer tournament is estimated to be worth between $75 and $90 million, and testing COVID 19 has not been an insignificant part of this tournament.
There is no doubt that it is expensive, Daley said. We will follow the advice of our medical experts to see if we need a model that we will eventually introduce in the 20-21 season. I think we’ll keep testing a lot. I expect the test landscape to develop further. And I think it’s developing fast, and I think it’s developing fast, probably in a positive way. Things change here, too. It’s dynamic. And testing, at least until we have a vaccine, will be at the heart of every system we create.
This week, the Canadian government and the province of Alberta are running a pilot program to test KOVID-19 for foreign tourists on arrival. These travellers may leave quarantine – after passing the 14-day isolation period prescribed by federal law – as soon as they receive a negative result, provided they agree to be re-tested within six to seven days, in addition to other daily registration and health measures. The NHL will keep a close eye on this program, which could be the key to a strategy to return to the game next season.
How does the NHL deal with the Canadian border problem?
Kaplan: The closure of the Canadian border for short trips was an obstacle to the NHL’s return this summer, and there wasn’t much to do.
There is no doubt that the border situation continues to cause problems, according to Daly. We’re in contact with people we need to communicate with. So we know what’s happening now and what can happen in the future. And that’s all I can say. This of course has consequences for the way we have to plan the 2020-21 season. And that’s taken into account. If it is still extremely difficult for teams to get to and from Canada, as I think we have made clear, one of the options is to create competition between Canadian clubs within the league.
Isaac Bogosh, an infectious disease researcher at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute who consults the NHLPA, believes a full Canadian department is likely to be needed.
I think so, because I honestly don’t see the border restrictions changing in the near future. And of course, I think we hear about the starting dates of the competition, you know, late December or early January or maybe February, but the starting time of the competition seems to be at that time. I don’t think we’ll see any major changes in border policy from time to time. So I think the competition absolutely has to adapt to that, Godach said. We’ve also seen the Canadian government’s attitude to hockey. Looks like you’re in or out.
Another point to take into account when closing the border: All branches of the American Hockey League for the Canucks, Oylers and Fire are in the US and if the situation at the border remains unchanged, a 14-day approved quarantine inspection will make it virtually impossible. This is one of the reasons why the AHL is also considering temporarily relocating the Utica Comets (Canucks), Bakersfield Condors (Oilers) and Stockton Heat (Calgary) to Canada for the 2020-21 season. Nothing is complete on this front.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Winter classics, normally the pearl of the NHL season, will not be played in 2021. John Crouch/Icon Sports Wire
What has already been cancelled for the NHL?
Vyshynsky: The 22nd. In October, the NHL announced that the NHL 2021 Winter Classics would be moved to the finish line in Minneapolis. The game on one. January would be the game of Minnesota Wilde vs. See St. Louis. Louis Blues. He also moved the 2021 NHL All-Star Game in Sunrise, Florida, originally scheduled for September 29-30. The month of January was planned. NHL stated that it intends to return to both locations in the near future.
Depending on the schedule, the NHL may take a mid-season break for its players. Could this include an event to replace the All Stars game? Potential.
Another outdoor game planned as part of the 2020-21 campaign is the Stadium Series game on the 20th. February at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina. He must represent the host of Hurricane Carolina against his opponent, which remains to be clarified. The competition will keep the doors open for this event, but may move it to a later date in the season. Even if it’s doubtful, that’s why it wasn’t postponed.
Did the NHL really want to play on a frozen lake in Alberta?
Vyshinsky: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The league was looking for Lake Louise in Banff National Park as an open-air field that could eventually start in the regular season. But this site has turned out to be untenable: As the property of a national park, there are regulations prohibiting construction and advertising in conspicuous places.
The competition is always looking for other locations that could give it an aesthetically impressive view of the match on the first day without fans. The trick is to find a place where fans can’t try to open the website to watch the game. In other words: Although Central Park in New York City and the National Shopping Center in Washington, D.C. were mentioned earlier as having limited capacity for outdoor playgrounds, they may not be viable for this project.
I think our priority is to organize major events in the 2020-21 season. I think the uncertainty about when and in what form we can start is a challenge when it comes to when the big event starts. This doesn’t mean we can’t or don’t want to do it. This only creates uncertainty about what should lead us, Daley said.
What is the master plan for the 2020-21 season?
Vyshinsky: While Daley pushed the idea of a master plan at such an early stage of the process, it is clear that both teams and players believe that the hybrid bubble idea is the most promising.
In fact, the NHL would assemble its teams in four different hub cities. One of them will be in Canada, where the seven Canadian teams will be grouped at the border due to current traffic restrictions. The other three will be in the United States, but not necessarily because of the exact geography of the teams in these groups. (In other words, some teams could play outside their time zone).
As with the post-season bubbles, the teams will be housed in hotels around these arenas, as KOVID-19 is regularly tested and access is limited.
Unlike post-season bubbles, teams and players are allowed to leave the tourniquet and go home to see friends and family during the scheduled breaks. The NHL understands very well that the players don’t want to blow any more bells. The only way to encourage them to shop at hubs is to give them the opportunity to visit their family during the regular season.
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What we achieved in what turned out to be an extensive playoff tournament was before we pushed that model. We’ve asked for the execution of many people. And everyone bought it. And we did. But longer than us? I do not think that is wise, Daley said. I hope we never see this model again. So we have to accept a different model for the regular season and the play-offs.
Although there wouldn’t be a whole day of hockey like the qualification and selection rounds after the bubble season, there would be multiple matches a day at each location.
So what are the main candidate cities for the role of the centres? Toronto and Edmonton are clearly looking forward to the Canadian spring, given the success of the competition in the playoffs. American cities will undoubtedly contain many of the elements that the NHL has reviewed in its quest for bubbles to get back into the game: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/Saint Paul and Pittsburgh. You may remember that Las Vegas was on a wave of bubbles until early summer, when the Nevada COWID-19 numbers burst.
One of the problems with the idea of a city centre could be housing. In these bubbles, the NHL was able to take over entire hotels, control access and limit the impact of potential VID 19 risks. These hotels in Toronto and Edmonton have largely been reopened by the union. But many hotels near the NHL are now open to the public. The problem is not only availability, but also the fact that local capacity requirements are a factor.
If the NHL eventually uses this option, sources indicate that it will be temporary, as the goal is to return to the arenas for local fans.
Fault! The file name is not specified. A possible plan is for groups of NHL teams to travel to the city of Nodo to play a series of matches and return home during the breaks. Mark Blinch/NHL through Getty Images
What are the risks of VIDOC-19 for this plan?
Vyshinsky: Well, it’s obviously not as safe as what we could do in Edmonton and Toronto. But I think your experiences in baseball and the NFL, while not perfect, have clearly proven to be viable in recent weeks, at least so far, Daley said. Again, this is not the safest way, but perhaps the most practical.
Bogocz is of the opinion that the hybrid bubble plan can be safely executed, but that this depends on several factors.
You will probably have to rely on diagnostic tests before entering the node to make sure no one enters COVID when you enter the node. You will probably still have to test negative after entering the city centre. Moreover, it really depends on who will buy back from everyone – not just the players, but everyone who goes into this changed bubble, according to Bogocz.
Bogocz refers to 3. Last season’s NHL recovery phase, in which teams participated in training camps in socially excluded and restricted access facilities subject to strict hygiene and cleaning standards to avoid KOVID-19.
You don’t want to be the guy or the team that puts him in the middle. This means that when you leave the center, you stay close to home. This means that you do not have to go to a restaurant or bar, according to the rules, wherever you live. That means having no parties at home, which means they’re really low and don’t get KOVID-19, Bogoshch said. You can create a safe environment for the job, but the most important thing is what these guys do the other 18 hours. We needed a lot of support from the players and everyone else to keep our heads down. But you know what? It’s all well done. This purchase really contributed to the success of the bubble.
Bogoch did not rule out testing the players when they are at home and away from the centers, but said that behavioral changes were the best option.
Instead of quickly identifying cases, you need to change your behaviour. He said you wanted to stop people from getting it in the first place. It is therefore a comprehensive approach in which the test is the most important pillar, but not the only one.
Are there any other options for the 2020-21 season?
Vyshinsky: It’s all on the table. These include the ability to start the season in local arenas and have teams travel according to the traditional schedule, as the MLB and NFL have done. Sources acknowledge that this is currently not possible for several reasons, mainly due to local regulations on inland waterway capacity and travel problems that are not limited to the Canadian border problem.
If a season is shortened, is it possible to extend the players’ contracts?
Vyshinsky: Daley stated that there have been no formal discussions with the Board of Directors about the impact of the shortened season on the players’ compensation.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Season 2020-21 KHL booming. Sergey Fadeychevtass about Getty Images
Other European competitions have already started their season. What does this mean for the NHL?
Kaplan: First of all, I recommend that you read this story by our colleague Chris Peters for a complete overview of how the uncertainty of the NHL scheme affects screening and the development of the prospect.
One of the biggest trends we’ve seen in the NHL in the off-season is that teams entrust their young players and prospects to European teams – so they stay in shape and don’t spend too much time away from serious competition. So far, more than 100 players have been awarded NHL contracts to clubs in 10 different European leagues. Some credits are granted for the whole season, others for a short period of time – meaning that the player returns to the NHL club at the beginning of the training camp.
Another thing is the credits for the World Junior Championships, an Edmonton Bubble tournament that will start at the end of December. The Chicago Black Hawks have already informed the Canadian team that Kirby Duch can play VSK if the NHL season hasn’t started yet.
Can NHL teams finally withdraw from the 2020-21 season?
Vyshinsky: It’s an interesting question when you look at what we’ve seen in other hockey leagues that want to play with different levels of fans. Five Southern Professional Hockey League teams were eliminated. Both EXL teams have so far refused to participate. The AHL has stated that it is not certain that all its franchises will play in 2020-21.
But Daley said he didn’t care whether he refused the NHL franchise or not.
I don’t want to interfere with the law, he said. I can say that the League’s initiatives are generally approved by the votes of the Board of Directors. And the votes of the Board of Directors are binding on the entire Board. But I’d like to step out of that context and basically say that I think our goal is to come up with a recommendation covering all 31 clubs – or 32 if you include Seattle, which will be in the league next year. And that will be our goal. I hope we can achieve this goal.
Of course, some franchises have felt the economic impact of COVID-19 more than others, and some teams are not interested in opening a new season without the opportunity to revitalize the revenue engines in their country. But one thing is clear, both from Daley and from our sources: When the NHL hosts the 2020-21 season, it will be with all 31 franchises on board.
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