Since suspending the NHL season earlier this month, league insiders have maintained a strong desire to complete regular season games and award the Stanley Cup. Now, the possibility is becoming more likely with officials eyeing the summer months as an adjusted timeframe to finish competition.
Evolving coronavirus cautionary measures has left all sports leagues questioning how and when to resume play. For the NHL in particular, the recent postponement of the 2020 Olympic Summer Games has freed up marquee TV time slots for potential playoff action after the league asked teams for arena availability through August.
“I think as time has gone on, we’ve recognized we might have a bigger window than we had originally thought with respect to the summer months and when we have to finish things to be ready for a full regular season next year,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly revealed last week.
Daly added that the league’s overall goal is to play as soon as safely possible, but day-to-day virus developments and guidelines from health and federal authorities could stretch the potential return schedule into late summer.
“I will say that it remains our hope, if not our goal, to be playing hockey sooner than then,” Daly said. “Depending on how things play out, we’d love to be playing sometime in the spring, and then if we have to leak into early summer, we’d love to have that problem. But I don’t think we’re far enough along in understanding where this is going to know what’s possible at this point in time. We think if we were required to, we might have the ability to play in August. If we have to fit games in, we’ll find ways to fit games in.”
The league previously announced it was postponing the 2020 NHL Draft, Awards and scouting combine in accordance with the prolonged hiatus. Players were made to self isolate themselves until March 27 after the league suspended the season. However, that isolation period has now been extended to at least April 4 as players undergo COVID-19 testing. Three NHL players have tested positive for the virus, while Daly confirmed some had tested negative and others were awaiting results.