What's Next for the NHL?

What's Next for the NHL?
Steven Stamkos #91 celebrates as Victor Hedman #77 hoists the Stanley Cup up. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images/AFP

We are only two days removed from the conclusion of the 2019/2020 season and it is only natural to wonder what is on the horizon for the league. From a quality and efficiency standpoint I would call this two hub city and expanded format a success. Ideally I imagine some of those teams that only got through to the best-of-five qualifying round would have liked a few exhibition games perhaps. Additionally playoff hockey is not meant to contain back-to-back games. Anyone who makes NHL picks knows this. I know there was significant time off so the fatigue and health status of players was optimal on just about every club, but when you factor in extra frames and the physicality it’s just not ideal.

So What’s the Plan Now!

Normally this week we would be just concluding a two-week preseason period with a handful of exhibition games per team. The 82-game season would be getting underway and headed toward an April finish and then playoffs beginning shortly thereafter and running until early June. Absolutely nothing has been confirmed yet, however the latest resumption out of the rumour mill is December 1st. However given that is only 8 weeks away and, given that the Tampa Bay Lightning are not even sober after their recent river boat parade, it would not surprise me in the least to see that as a skating resumption and it to be pushed back.

The other very clear issue is whether the NHL would now be ready to green light all 31 arenas. There are a number of key groups that have yet to weigh-in, and Commissioner Gary Bettman is keeping all details of management discussion very tight-lipped. The other critical piece needing to be decided before any go ahead is the duration of the season. Assuming the start date is in fact December 1 for an 82 game season then that would take us to middle of May even with additional back-to-back games. Combine this with the rigorous four rounds of a playoff schedule and you’ve got a 2020/2021 season ending at the end of July. Does this then mean the next season is pushed back again by a month?

There is a lot for the NHL to figure out and the additional pressure to take the next steps and open things up in both nations with potential border issues to still in play could make this another drawn out process. Next week we’ll take a look at some of the incredibly early futures that have gone up on the NHL odds boards at the top sportsbooks!