During Tuesday’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading, it was mentioned that the NHL has asked all 31 teams to look into open arena dates for the month of August, which suggests that the league could be looking to try and complete the 2019-20 season around the time a lot of players typically begin on-ice workouts in preparation for a new season that would start in October.
Before Tuesday, the NHL had asked about open dates in it’s various arenas for June and July, but this seems to make the first “formal” request to look into availability for August. The idea of playing hockey in August is very much in line with the speculated “Player Proposal” that was made last week that suggested that mini training camps to get players back into game shape would start in July, with the season resuming later in the month and then a fully played out 2020 NHL Playoffs taking place through August and September.
To date, the NHL as well as the AHL are the only two hockey leagues remaining that have not outright put an end to their 2019-20 season. The Canadian Hockey League (major junior) pulled the plug on their season as well as the Memorial Cup to be awarded on Monday. Just this morning the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia officially ended their season even as they had discussed potentially playing into the summer as well, but felt it would be too much of a disturbance to the 2020-21 season.
So why is the NHL being so stubborn in trying to complete the current season and seem willing to throw their following season into a bit of chaos as well? Money of course.
As outlined by Frank Seravalli during that Insider Trading discussion:
“You can bet the NHL will do whatever it takes, no matter how hot it is, to get back on the ice. Because what’s at stake is a potential revenue loss of north of $1 billion if this 2019-20 season does not resume. And so everyone’s wondering if there could be some sort of bailout coming in the form of an insurance recovery. Well the NHL does not believe there’s going to be any meaningful insurance payout that’s on the way. And that affects both the owners and players. Because when you look at it, players are on the hook 50/50 of the revenue split.”
All of this comes on the same day that the NHL also extended its self-isolation order for another ten days which doesn’t seem to be long enough and could be extended yet again once it’s up in early April.