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Bettman on cancelling the NHL season: “Not something I’m even contemplating”

On Tuesday, NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, spoke to members of a business alliance on a conference call put on the San Jose Sharks and described that he has no plans of cancelling the NHL season, even stating that it’s “not something I’m even contemplating.”

According to a report published by Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News, Bettman participated in a 20-minute Q&A that covered an array of topics, including further confirmation that the NHL does indeed want to reach a conclusion for the 2019-20 NHL season and strongly believes that it is still possible.

“I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done. I don’t want to sound Pollyanna, but cancelling is too easy a solution. That means you stop working hard to do all of the things that we’re doing, and I ultimately believe that there will be an opportunity.”

When describing how this could work out, Bettman reiterated that it would be a collaborative effort between the league and local health officials.

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“States are re-opening, cities are re-opening. And if we do the right things, I think we’ll be able to finish the season.”

Since pausing play on March 12th as a result of COVID-19, the Nation Hockey League has tabling ideas and planning possible scenarios for which it could safely resume play and reach a conclusion on the current season. Aside from the obvious questions of whether or not the league will be able to get back on the ice, there are many folks wondering what that return to play would even look like.

“We would like to bring a conclusion to this season. It’s got to be fair, it’s got to have integrity, and if we have to do it over the summer on some modified basis, then we’ll do it on that basis.”

With 189 games left on the schedule at the time of the shutdown, many believe the NHL would look at jumping straight into the playoffs but that is far from certain. Even less certain is whether fans would be able to watch their heroes play again, a hope that Bettman is holding out for next season.

“Obviously we hope to be playing in front of fans by next season. But if we finish in August or September, there’s no magic to starting in October anymore. We can start in November. We can start in December.”

No matter how the league chooses to proceed, the upcoming weeks and months are going to be crucial as we watch the next steps for how the world navigates the coming stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, Adam Silver, the NBA’s commissioner, told reporters that he would like to make a decision on the remainder of the basketball season within the next 2-4 weeks, meaning that we may also get an idea of what the National Hockey League will do to follow suit.

“You’re going to be a little flexible with the schedule, because we want to be able to bring the game back, both to conclude this season on some basis and to have a full regular season next year. If that means we need to be more flexible, then that’s what we’ll do.”