NHL Puts Return Focus On Big City With Fewer Coronavirus Cases
The NHL in an attempt to resume the season is "focused on playing in an NHL city (perhaps more than one) that has been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, whose curve tracks positively, and is located within a state whose social distancing regulations would be relaxed by the time the first puck is ready to be dropped," according to Larry Brooks of the N.Y. POST. Under this proposal, athletes and team support staffs "would essentially have to be segregated." NHLPA leadership told the players on a Thursday conference call that a summer resumption "would generate approximately" $350M in revenue from existing TV and sponsorship contracts. Brooks noted that number is believed to be "based on a 24-team playoff format that would be preceded by two or three exhibition games per team." The league has said that resumption could generate between $450-500M, but that range is believed to be "based on completing the full schedule." The NHL determined that the infrastructure for completing the '19-20 season in a remote location such as Manchester, N.H., "would be insufficient to support such a massive endeavor" (N.Y. POST, 4/19).
MUM'S THE WORD: NHLPA Exec Dir Don Fehr said that he has "not yet had any discussions with the NHL about specific neutral-site locations for a potential Stanley Cup playoffs this summer." Fehr on Saturday said the union has not discussed anything other than the "general understanding that they're looking at all possibilities, which includes neutral sites -- neutral being defined as a place that isn't a home base for an NHL team." Fehr added that any decision about the future of the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs is "tied to an easing of restrictions on travel, essential business and mass gatherings." He explained, "You're going to want to know what the CDC says, without any question at all. But in addition to that, as we all know, the state governors and the provincial premiers have the basic responsibilities over their own jurisdictions, so you're going to have to work with them too" (ESPN.com, 4/18).
RETURN TRIP: In Chicago, Barry Rozner writes for the NHL, the "best case would probably be another month before they can find any ice time." Players "need time off to heal and train in the summer," and if the playoffs "don't end until August, it could be dangerous and a health risk from a hockey standpoint." However, the NHL "doesn't want to lose a billion dollars in revenue and hockey fans won't care what it looks like or what the format is if they get to see the playoffs" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 4/20).