Vegas Golden Knights: December start for 2020-21 might be a blessing

Another day and another nugget of information about how the Vegas Golden Knights and the rest of the NHL could move on in the wake of COVID-19 has now emerged.

Following reports last week that the National Hockey League intends on using four centralized NHL sites, including the Vegas Golden Knights’ T-Mobile Arena, to finish the 2019-20 season, another interesting proposal has emerged.

According to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, the NHL are now exploring the possibility of starting the 2020-21 regular season in December.

Per LeBrun, there are two main reasons for this idea including the fact that finishing the 2019-20 regular season and then crowning a Stanley Cup Champion this year could stretch into September, and maybe even October.

If that proved to be the case then the league would need some kind of off-season, while another driving factor behind beginning 2020-21 in December is the fact that the league feels they can’t start a new NHL season without fans in buildings.

I can completely understand that because the league and each team will lose enough money by hockey being on lockdown as it is, let alone if they have to at least start a new season without fans in attendance.

As a result, planning on starting the 2020-21 NHL regular season in December hopefully allows enough time for the world to be in a better place and for this pandemic to have been brought under control.

Now, as far as the Vegas Golden Knights are concerned, starting the new season in December may actually prove to be a blessing.

Before we explain why, however, let’s make it clear that we are basing this on the assumption that the NHL gets their wish and a Stanley Cup Champion is crowned in 2019-20.

Should that be the case, hockey will be played deep into the summer and possibly even September, meaning that for the two teams who go all the way and contest the Stanley Cup Final, they won’t get much of a break before jumping straight into 2020-21.

For the Golden Knights, who are built to win right now, there is every chance that they could go deep in the postseason should the playoffs go ahead.

Boasting incredible stats in a number of underlying metrics under Head Coach Peter DeBoer, who has a 15-5-2 record since being hired by the Knights, many experts have Vegas making a lot of noise in the playoffs and getting revenge for their bitterly disappointing First Round exit last year.

Now possessing an elite one-two punch between the pipes in Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner, a rising star on the blueline who is playing at the peak of his powers in Shea Theodore and an explosive top-six forward unit featuring Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, the Golden Knights have the weapons to make a run and win the greatest prize in all of sports.

Jonathan Marchessault of the Vegas Golden Knights reacts after scoring a power-play goal in overtime to defeat the St. Louis Blues 6-5 during their game at T-Mobile Arena on February 13, 2020.

As a result, and should they get the chance to battle for the Stanley Cup this year, a December start for the 2020-21 regular season would allow the Golden Knights the opportunity to recover and recharge the batteries after a deep run.

That extra time to rest the body and mind after a gruelling playoff run will be crucial, while any injuries sustained will also have the chance to heal.

Training Camps would likely begin in November for a December start, while LeBrun also reported that the NHL would likely get rid of the All-Star Break in order to fit in a full 82-game schedule.

It would just give the Golden Knights some much-needed breathing room before diving into another regular gruelling 82-game season, while not having to worry about events such as the All-Star Break in 2020-21 will also be beneficial in terms of not having any distractions.

Also, as mentioned by LeBrun, delaying the start of the 2020-21 regular season to December gives the NHL the best possible chance of being able to start the new year with fans back in the building.

That would be a huge plus for the Golden Knights who feed off the energy generated by a passionate and packed T-Mobile Arena, and starting a new season in an empty arena after a long and exhausting playoff run would no doubt have a detrimental effect on the team’s motivation and mentality.

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Overall, while it wouldn’t work for teams who won’t be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs should they take place this year, a December start for the 2020-21 NHL regular season could actually be a blessing in disguise for the Vegas Golden Knights.