NHL: League Hoping to Hammer Out Return to Play Plan This Week

Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days in which the NHL makes some sort of decision about the 2020-2021 season.

According to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, deputy commissioner Bill Daly sent out a memo Tuesday that indicated the league wants to “make a recommendation” at the board of governors meeting Thursday about what a return to play would look like.

Daly stated that the NHL’s executive board met Friday via Zoom and is negotiating with the NHLPA. Progress, according to the deputy commissioner, is “being made.”

Does that mean we could know the straight goods about the NHL’s start date for the 2020-2021 season soon, perhaps sometime this week?

Actually, yes.

Daly stated that negotiations between the players and the executive board are in the works and could be wrapped by Thursday, which would give some terms to lay before the owners. If the owners ratify the terms, we’re off and running.

The objective, according to reports, is still to start on January 1.

The goal is to conclude the slate by April’s end, which means we’ll be getting a condensed season of about 48 to 52 games. The goal for 2021-2022 is to play all 82 games and get things back to as close to “normal” as possible. The Stanley Cup for the 2020-2021 season would be rewarded before the summer, theoretically.

According to Daly’s memo, the league is looking into the possibility of four hub cities. Teams would spend about two weeks in each hub, return home for a weeklong break. And yes, the idea of a Canadian division is very much a thing – albeit a temporary thing.

Starting the new season without fans in the stands seems to be, at least for now, the most reasonable approach. But there’s no way the owners want things to stay that way, which means we could see staggered seating and an arrangement to bring about at least the veneer of a live crowd sooner rather than later.

As with all things COVID-19, nothing is for sure. There is hope on the horizon for some sort of return to regularity and the NHL is making plans. We may know more about those plans by the end of the week, so stay tuned.

Image: NHL

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