NHL planning full 2020-21 season regardless of 2019-20 outcome

Matt Kalman
March 23, 2020 - 2:39 pm

With the news emerging Monday that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed at least until 2021, closer attention will certainly be directed toward the NHL and NBA and how long they’ll wait to make a decision about completing their 2019-20 seasons.

The NHL put out an updated Q&A about their current approach to the situation involving the Coronavirus pandemic and their suspended season.

One thing the league made clear in its update is that there won’t be a 2019-20 conclusion that prevents the NHL from playing a full 82-game schedule in 2020-21.

If the NHL playoffs go into July and/or August, could there be a shortened regular season next year?

No. We do not anticipate a scenario in our resumption of play format that would endanger or interfere with the League’s ability to stage and execute the 2020-21 NHL season in its entirety.

For those hoping the Bruins’ remarkable regular season won’t go to waste and that the Stanley Cup playoffs will be played in some form, the positive news is that at this point the NHL is keeping all options open. One thing is certain, without the Olympics, NBC Sports is going to be looking for summer programming and a NHL tournament for the Stanley Cup in July and August would be a welcome replacement for the NHL’s television partner here in the U.S.

There’s a chance, however, play could resume with empty arenas.

Will games resume in arena venues that are closed to the public?

It is premature to say what the circumstances would be for resumption of play, but we are prepared to follow the direction of relevant health authorities.

NHL players have been asked to self-quarantine, and that’s expected to end Friday barring any other revelations. The league is still hopeful to be able to start some sort of a “training camp period” 45 days into the CDC recommended 60-day window of stopping gatherings of 50 or more people.

The league’s update also covered how it and the Ottawa Senators are handling the positive COVID-19 tests of two Senators players. Only NHL players that have shown symptoms or felt sick have been tested because of the scarcity of test. The league also said that there would not be mandatory testing for players if/when they return to team facilities.

As for the NHL Draft Combine, the NHL Draft and player contracts, which expire July 1, the league is waiting to see how other matters play out before making a determination on those side issues.

Have any decisions been made regarding the 2020 Draft or Combine?

At this time, no decisions have been made regarding the timing or format of the NHL Draft or Combine.

How will the League handle Player contracts that expire July 1 in the event the season’s end is delayed?

Any decision we make on the schedule and critical dates calendar during the off-season ultimately will be done in conjunction with the NHLPA and, in that context, the parties will discuss how best to accommodate the resumption of play determinations that are ultimately made.

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