It’s now December, and there’s still no sign of the NHL season starting in January, and I’m OK with that. The world isn’t in a place where it can support national league sports. From all of the Denver Bronco’s quarterbacks catching the virus, to the EPL postponing games. With the best will in the world, we’re just not ready yet.
So what does the NHL do instead? Cancel the season and just focus on preparations for next October? This is definitely an option worth considering. As Carl and Nick discussed on the show, the financial impact of playing games without fans is so severe that some teams would be best off not playing at all. We’ve seen some European teams playing their games at the practice grounds to save money.
Unfortunately, TV money isn’t enough to keep the lights on and the players and staff paid, and the money from the new Adidas jersey profits will only stretch so far. Training camps haven’t started yet, and there’s no guarantee that when they do, they can stay virus free. Remember when the Lightning had to close their facility? So what do the teams do instead? A temporary realignment is an option, and while that helps with the border issue, that’s really all it helps with. The NFL doesn’t cross borders and that hasn’t stopped many, many players testing positive.
So what can the NHL do? Cancel the season? Definitely, this should happen otherwise we’re in danger of ice hockey becoming a summer sport. But there’s another option. Looking back at what the NHL has done well recently, it’s tournaments inside bubbles.
I was pretty sure the Stanley Cup finals were going to be a disaster, but like Jerry Orbach says in Dirty Dancing, when I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong. The NHL did a really good job and put on an entertaining and safe tournament. Is it possible that the league could put something like that together again?
The safest way to hold a competition (aside from not holding it) is in a bubble environment, and it doesn’t even have to be that competitive, an exhibition tournament would give teams a chance to shake off the rust. The tourney can also allow in fans – at safe levels. Many sports have experimented with allowing fans back in while still being socially distant. Even to the extent of positioning disinfection booths by the turnstiles. So far the results have been encouraging.
Cancelling the season would be frustrating for fans, but only the most ardent of supporter would fail to understand that it’s the right thing to do. Hopefully though the league can reflect on the success it had with the Stanley Cup Finals bubble system, and give us an interim competition to get excited over.
What do you think? Comment below or join in the conversation on Twitter.