Bettman: NHL Looking At 8-9 Sites As Options To Resume Season
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league is "looking at 'probably eight or nine different places' that can accommodate 'a dozen or so teams in one location' as it explores options for resuming the season," according to Nicholas Cotsonika of NHL.com. Bettman during LeadersWeek Direct yesterday said that the NHL "would need to resolve border and quarantine issues to reconvene the players, 17 percent of whom are outside North America, the rest of whom are spread around the continent." Cotsonika noted if the NHL "uses centralized locations, it probably would need the ability to play multiple games per day without fans." The league also "would need the hotel space to house teams and the capacity to test personnel for COVID-19 without doing so at the expense of the medical community." Bettman: "I am told that there can be enough capacity, and certainly over the next couple of months, there will be more capacity. But that is a fundamental question, and we certainly can't be jumping the line in front of medical needs" (NHL.com, 5/18).
THE NEW NORMAL? A 24-team postseason proposal is being discussed for when the NHL returns, and in Toronto, Michael Traikos writes fans should not be "surprised if it becomes the norm." Adding eight more teams into the playoffs this season is "mostly out of necessity." However, the "real reason for expanding the playoffs is that it puts more cash in the owners' pockets." Traikos: "Do you honestly think the owners, who could potentially lose more money next year if fans are still not allowed back in the buildings, will want to go back to 16 teams? No chance" (TORONTO SUN, 5/19). However, in Chicago, John Dietz writes the 24-team proposal is an “awful idea.” He writes, “Contracting the field would crown a truly deserving champion and also condense the postseason to the point where next season's start date wouldn't be compromised. As we've seen quite often in recent years, however, decisions are made because of the almighty dollar. We can hope more intelligent heads prevail” (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 5/19).
GETTING CLOSER: In St. Paul, John Shipley cites a source as saying the league and NHLPA are “aggressively working on a plan … that could reopen the playoff season later this summer.” Wild G and NHLPA union rep Devan Dubnyk "confirmed the working relationship between the league and players." Dubnyk: “I wouldn’t say it’s promising, but it’s refreshing that both sides basically are working toward the same solution.” Dubnyk said that the NHL's hub cities plan was "not ideal," adding that "no NHL player wants to be sequestered in one city, away from his family, for what could be two months." But, he said that "every player he has talked to wants to finish the season and has an open mind about how to do it." Dubnyk said that talks with the league thus far "haven’t focused on details such as host cities but details such as when teams might be able to return to practice" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/19).