Report: NHL start date at risk due to spikes in COVID-19 cases

The NHL updated the Board of Governors this week and are still intent on hitting their target date. However, details are starting to emerge that optimism turned to concerns rather quickly.

NHL start date may not be hit

In a report by Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, he cites several anonymous league executives. The main sentiment that came out of the NHL’s one hour phone call was that of uncertainty.

“There are so many hurdles. It’s a situation that just keeps changing,” one executive told him. “I do think they’ll find a way to play, it just may not be on Jan. 1,” another executive conveyed.

This is just the cold hard realities the league is facing. The good news they have safety protocols drawn up for playing in hybrid hubs where teams can compete in their home buildings.

COVID-19 cases rising

COVID-19 cases have been spiking in the U.S. since the start of November. According to data collected by the NY Times, over 180,000 new cases were reported just yesterday, with 163,000 cases the day before.

This is going to have impact on the border between Canada and the U.S. without a doubt. It will also make it harder to justify allowing fans into the buildings. The NHL desperately needs that revenue to survive and get financially healthy.

Operation Warp Speed put forth by the Trump Administration to produce and get out Pfizer’s vaccine could help. The objective as stated on HHS’s website is to “produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.”

NHL 2020-21 season notes

Here’s what is known per published reports:

  • A 56 or 72 game season being discussed
  • Teams will play 3 game series similar to baseball
  • Stanley Cup playoffs to be complete by July 15 at the latest
  • Internal push to have games in the teams own buildings continues
  • Realignment and an all Canadian Division is likely
  • January 1 is still the target but everyone needs to be flexible
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