Happy Monday to all, as much as that wish can go anyway.
I thought there was very good news this morning when I read Nicholas Cotsonika’s piece for NHL.com that quoted NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly as saying he thinks there is now a bigger “window” than previously thought to still get the rest of the NHL season in – whether it includes a truncated regular season or not – and a full playoff.
From the piece:
“I think as time has gone on, we’ve recognized we might have a bigger window than we had originally thought with respect to the summer months and when we have to finish things to be ready for a full regular season next year,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Friday.
The International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, opening TV time on NBC networks in July and August. The NHL has asked teams for arena availability through the end of August.
“I will say that it remains our hope, if not our goal, to be playing hockey sooner than then,” Daly said. “Depending on how things play out, we’d love to be playing sometime in the spring, and then if we have to leak into early summer, we’d love to have that problem. But I don’t think we’re far enough along in understanding where this is going to know what’s possible at this point in time. …
“We think if we were required to, we might have the ability to play in August. If we have to fit games in, we’ll find ways to fit games in.’
This is, cautiously, good news for people who are dying to see a finish to this season. Of course, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, dealing with a virus that doesn’t give a damn about any league or hopes of finishing a season. We have to beat back the thing before any of that happens.
Here’s what I think, though: I think the odds are high that, if there are games, they’ll be played without fans in the stands. That’s just my hunch, but one based on a little bit of reporting and looking at the facts. I just don’t think the league will want all the headaches of allowing 18,000 people into a relatively small space together, not so soon after thousands of people have died and/or the virus still possibly being out there. They’re not going to have to nervously wait in the few days after, whether a bunch of people at the game came down with the virus. They’re not going to want that kind of legal culpability.
Games without fans in the stands? Yeah, that would kind of suck, because the NHL playoffs, to me, is all about the fans. Everybody wears the same color shirt, everybody is screaming their lungs out. It’s what makes the NHL the sport with the best playoff atmosphere, in my opinion.
I also think it would be extremely bad optics if, say, fans were still asked to pony up full prices for playoff tickets. Hey, let the marketplace decide, but how good would it look to say to the average Joe Sixpack fan out there, who may not have had an income the last few months, “OK, folks, tickets are $200 a game still.”
But, fans who have been cooped up for two months or more by this time aren’t going to care where or how the games are played. One thing is for sure: the TV ratings would be off the charts, if things are still in something of a lockdown elsewhere in society. The league can make up for a lot of that lost ticket money by charging more for ads from what should be very healthy ratings.
The fact that guys like Bill Daly are talking about the possibility of hockey resuming in a couple months is encouraging, no matter what. Let’s just keep washing those hands and practicing social distancing, eh?
- So, the NHL is setting up a video tomorrow with Central Division players, just like they’ve done with players from other divisions. Gabe Landeskog will join Jamie Benn, Zach Parise and Blake Wheeler to talk and answer questions from fans and the media. I am allowed three questions in advance. What should I ask, people?
- Continued best wishes to former Avs announcer John Kelly, who came down with the virus. I’ve been in touch with John, and he’s doing well. (NHL.com)
- Interesting conversation with Wayne Gretzky, about the virus and how it relates to hockey moving forward (The Hockey News).
- When a second Avs player tested positive for the virus, I contacted a league official and asked if it was now mandatory that every other Avs player had to be tested. I was told that, unless they were showing symptoms, it wasn’t mandatory. The further belief was that, because the last game was played March 11, that if you weren’t showing symptoms by then, you didn’t have it and you didn’t need to get tested. Any player that wants to get tested can arrange for it privately, but there is no one from the Avs or NHL going around administering the tests mandatorily.