NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has shared his outlook for resuming the 2019-20 season, though many uncertainties remain.
Speaking with sportscaster Mike Tirico on NBCSN’s “Lunch Talk Live” Tuesday, Bettman offered his take on the league’s current hiatus and possible return. He remains primarily optimistic about completing the paused season in some capacity, though admits it might not be possible depending on the state of the coronavirus pandemic and developing recommendations from public health experts.
“The best thing, and the easiest thing, would be if at some point we could complete the regular season and then go into the playoffs as we normally do,” Bettman said. “We understand that that may not be possible, and that’s why we’re considering every conceivable alternative to deal with whatever the eventuality is.”
Bettman recently joined other executives from the country’s top sports leagues in a conference call with President Trump, who expressed his desire to see sports fans fill arenas by late summer. However, leagues are uncertain of that timeline based on new daily developments regarding the pandemic.
“From an NHL standpoint, and I’m sure this is what the other leagues are doing, we’re viewing all of our options,” Bettman shared. “We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light, and the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the country you can’t play and other places where you can. We’re looking at all options. Nothing has been ruled in, nothing has been ruled out.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shared similar sentiments this week, though he has determined the league won’t come to any formal decisions until at least May. Bettman, on the other hand, told Tirico he hopes to have more information at the end of this month.
The NHL Commissioner also backed-up recent claims that the league has been eyeing a larger window of time to compete. Teams had been told to inquire about arena availability in August, and the league would be able to acquire broadcasting during that time due to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. No matter what course of action the league takes for the remainder of this season, officials have maintained that the 2020-21 season will not be impacted.