It has now been a month since the NHL went on lockdown due to COVID-19, and we may have to start accepting the fact that the Vegas Golden Knights could be done for the year.
We should be indulging in a succulent feast of Stanley Cup Playoff games right now but, instead, we are revisiting old Vegas Golden Knights games and clinging onto the hope that hockey will be back sooner rather than later.
However, with each passing day it is becoming more and more of a possibility that the 2019-20 NHL season may be done for, along with a bevy of other sporting events such as the NBA and Major League Baseball.
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That is a sobering thought but, with the world experiencing a health crisis like never before and lives being lost on a daily basis, sports has to obviously take a backseat.
The priority has to be protecting the health of everyone, while giving every available resource to those who are so bravely risking their own health every single day in order to save the lives of others.
As a result, it may be time to start getting used to the fact that 2020 will be looked back on as the year that no sports was played.
While we hope that’s not the case, it just doesn’t seem feasible right now that we will be able to resume our normal lives anytime soon.
Of course, the NHL are doing what they should be doing right now by exploring every possible avenue should sports return this year.
There has already been a plethora of ideas floated, and these are some other areas we’ve covered in relation to the future of the NHL this year:
- Playoff formats that would & wouldn’t work for VGK
- Working out what hockey may look like
- Protecting 2020-21 may be the best option
Furthermore, reports emerged last week suggesting that the NHL is considering playing games at neutral sites without fans in order to finish the regular season and then stage the 2019-20 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Games could be staged in Manchester, New Hampshire or North Dakota, with teams being based in that area for the duration of the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
That is a good idea in theory but what happens if just one player, coach or front office member contracts the virus?
If that happened then the NHL would have no choice but to shut everything down in order to prevent the virus being spread among players and teams.
Even playing deep into the summer in a regular playoff format throws up a slew of logistical nightmares given that some states are affected more than others.
Cities like New York, which have been hit incredibly hard, won’t be in a position to host any kind of event for months in all probability, even events without fans in attendance.
Plus, there is another caveat to consider.
A number of NHL players are currently back in their home states or in Europe, with NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daley admitting to nhl.com that he would be surprised if the NHL’s self-quaratine directive for players doesn’t get extended beyond the original date of April 15
Therefore, it doesn’t seem possible to get all the players back to North America, conduct a mini Training Camp and then conduct games in a timely manner without disrupting other events.
After all, the NHL still has to decide when and in what format the 2020 NHL Entry Draft will take place, as well as the 2020 NHL Awards.
And, as we’ve mentioned here, the main priority for the NHL should be to protect the 2020-21 season at all costs.
So, while as a huge hockey fan it would pain me to see the 2019-20 NHL season get cancelled, we live in a new and scary world and, with people’s health and slowing down this pandemic the main priority, we may have to accept that we won’t see the return of hockey or any sports until next year.