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When Are We Getting Hockey Back? The NHL Doesn’t Know Yet

Are you going a little stir crazy without your professional hockey fix? Starting to wonder when you’ll see your heroes on skates return to the ice? Well, the National Hockey League will be glad to let you know when that date will be…

Just as soon as they figure it out themselves.

Monday morning, the league published an FAQ which was meant to answer the questions that many fans have had over the last couple of weeks since the NHL hit the pause button on the season. The first question asked referenced the CDC’s 60 day timeline against gatherings of 50 people or more and how it affects the NHL…

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We will continue to monitor developments during the 60-day window prescribed by the CDC. Assuming events are tracking positively, we would hope to be able to begin providing high-level guidance on the potential of opening a Club training camp period roughly 45 days into the period covered by the CDC’s recommendation.

In other words, don’t expect any hockey in April and unless we suddenly see a turnaround to where the growth of the pandemic is slowed it’s looking very unlikely that things will “trend positively” enough for the NHL after that 45 day period.

The FAQ goes on to outline that players have been allowed to return to their homes which may be outside of their playing cities and in some cases – like that of Patrik Laine – include going back home overseas which could make for a bit of an issue if the NHL wants to resume play with international travel bans still in place.

Given that there has been no idea when the league will be able to resume, it’s not surprising that there has been no decision has been made on just how the remainder of the 2019-20 season will play out…

The form and format of resumption of play scenarios will depend entirely on what transpires between now and when we are permitted and able to resume — and, ultimately, on timing and taking into account logistical constraints. We are going to have to be flexible and react to events as they unfold as well as the best medical advice available.

Or how they will deal with such off-season matters such as the Draft and Free Agency.

It’s worth noting a few paragraphs later, the media release notes that “We do not anticipate a scenario in our resumption of play format that would endanger or interfere with the League’s ability to stage and execute the 2020-21 NHL season in its entirety.”

if you consider the one to three months it could take to finish the season, along with at least a month needed to sort of typical off-season workings, this all would seem to indicate that while there is no set deadline or ‘drop dead’ date picked out for the cancellation of the remainder of the season, the NHL is probably looking at a situation where a final decision may have to be made around June or July so as to not interfere with a full 20-21 season that could be started in November (as was suggested in a player’s proposal), but not much later than that.

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This afternoon the NHL Board Of Governors had a conference call which doesn’t give much more details other than to help educate on just what we are all dealing with in COVID-19 as well as outlining multiple options.

So to answer the question of “when will we get hockey back?” the answer appears to be: don’t expect it any time soon and we don’t know what it will look like quite yet once it does return.

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