Under normal circumstances, the NHL season would be well under way, but as we all know, 2020 has been anything but normal. With COVID-19 altering all facets of life, including professional sports, there are disagreements as to whether or not having an NHL season next year is worth the trouble.
Several owners voiced their opinions that the NHL would be in better shape financially if the NHL season is abandoned, according to Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski of ESPN. The argument is quite compelling, given the fact that arenas have been empty and likely will continue to be with the pandemic yet under control.
League commissioner Gary Bettman appears to be completely against this argument, indicating that the damage over the long haul would be significantly worse than playing in empty arenas. A shortened season is all but ensures, but a schedule of, at least, half a regular schedule appears to be the minimum.
Around half of the income generated for the league comes from the games. With many cities still not allowing fans in arenas, that’s a major concern to the league. However, Bettman is hoping that there will be fans in attendance at least at some stage of the season.
There are possible plans put in place to start the season in a semi-bubble, with a few locations in Canada and the United States. The situation would hopefully only be temporary, assuming restrictions from the pandemic are lifted. At the bare minimum, the league wants fans allowed in attendance for playoff action.
Nothing has yet been set in stone for the 2020-2012 season, but there is a target date set for the first day of the new year. Whether or not a full season can be played remains to be seen, but plans are to end before the start of the Olympic games in July.