The COVID-19 pandemic is still causing havoc around the world and the NHL is still not sure about a return date, although a few ideas have been floated.
Last month, the league revealed a January 1 start date for the 2020-2021 season. That was a month removed from the previously discussed start date of December 1.
Now, the NBA has ratified its intended start date of December 22.
Many are questioning the possibility of the NHL starting at or around that date, since the NHL has traditionally commenced its new season before the NBA has traditionally commenced its new season.
But naturally, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown everything into a tailspin and that could mean fresh problems for the NHL.
Among the many issues, Canada.
The NBA has only the Toronto Raptors to contend with. Any bubble could easily include them and alleviate any difficulties with cross-border travel.
As far as the NHL goes, there has been tentative talk of an “all-Canadian” division. That has naturally prompted roughly 23 million blog postings about how the Toronto Maple Leafs would, like, totally win it, but I digress.
An all-Canadian division would expedite the process of moving forward on a new NHL season, however, and that’s a good thing. Scheduling would be reasonable and the league could make use of a similar bubble system from the playoffs.
As usual, there are other issues. We don’t know how the COVID-19 pandemic is going to progress in the coming months, of course. And the holiday break makes a difference if players will be separated from their families for any extended period of time, as they’re not going to want to miss out on any traditional celebrations if they’re stuck in a bubble somewhere.
Remember, too, that the CBA has a negotiated holiday break of three days that applies to a normal season.
The upcoming season will be anything but normal, but holiday breaks have to be discussed if the NHL is aiming at a pre-Christmas start time or something similar. Training camp is also on the table.
But still, the NBA planting its proverbial flag in the ground does matter. The NHL is generally not far behind in terms of what players are willing to do, so we could see some advanced movement on a start date and playing possibilities any day now.