It has been a long two months since a puck was last hit in competitive anger in the National Hockey League, but there could be light at the end of the tunnel for the Vegas Golden Knights yet.
Although it has been 65 days since the Vegas Golden Knights last took to the ice, it has felt like an eternity.
We have also seen a plethora of proposals and ideas ranging from the feasible to the downright ridiculous on how hockey may be able to return at some point this year.
While dread starts to kick in the longer time goes on without a clear solution, there is one man who refuses to look at things with a glass half-empty approach.
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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has been resolute in his desire to still crown a Stanley Cup Champion in 2019-20, and he’s still hanging from that particular rim.
In a recent interview with The Mercury News, Bettman stated that giving up on this season “is not something I’m even contemplating.”
While that has been the mantra of the NHL since the sporting world went on lockdown back in early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that Bettman is still speaking in that particular tone will no doubt be music to the ears of hockey and Golden Knights fans everywhere.
After all, the American Hockey League cancelled the remainder of their 2019-20 regular season, in addition to the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs, on Monday, sparking fears that the NHL could follow.
And, with MLB and the NBA both trying to thrash out a return for Baseball and Basketball respectively, you can forgive some for fearing that the NHL is fighting a losing battle.
While that may still end up being the case, Bettman is clearly not going down without a fight and the NHL are currently considering a bevy of potential rescue plans so to speak.
Resuming the regular season in some way shape or form appears to be the main priority, and many NHL players have echoed that sentiment.
Jumping straight into a 24-team expanded playoff format has also gathered plenty of momentum, with the focus being on playing hockey throughout the summer without impacting the 2020-21 season too much.
Granted, any return for hockey has to take into consideration the safety of the players, coaches, front office and support staff, and that has to be the driving force for those in power making the decisions.
Of course, safety has certainly been at the forefront of the thinking behind finishing the regular season and staging the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four centralized NHL arenas, an idea we delved into here.
Mass testing would also need to be available and these are all major obstacles the NHL needs to hurdle before the tantalizing dream of summer hockey can become a reality.
With certain States and cities now starting to reopen, there is now fuel being added to the fire for sports to return in the not-too distant future.
Teams are hoping to report back to their facilities by the end of this month, and the NHL has also stressed that they would be happy to push back the start of the 2020-21 season to December, so long as they can still play a full 82-game schedule next year.
Bettman also spoke with The Mercury News about needing to finish the season with integrity, and that will also play a big factor in whether hockey can actually come back this summer.
I mean, who wants some watered down version of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Jumping straight into a 24-team playoff format is rising to the top of the list according to reports, and that would at least ensure that a Stanley Cup Champion is crowned in the right but, albeit, different way compared to what we are used to.
But, overall, and while just words, it is encouraging to hear that the NHL Commissioner is still determined to ensure that we have hockey again this year and that we do get to see a Stanley Cup Champion crowned in 2019-20.
For the Vegas Golden Knights, who are right in the middle of their win-now window and were primed to make major noise in the postseason this year, that is very good news indeed.