Happy Friday. It’s not such a happy time for the NHL at the moment. Or, it sure doesn’t seem like it anyway. *UPDATE: Everything you read in the next few paragraphs is, happily, moot now.
While the NBA is set to open a 72-game regular season on Tuesday night and has already been playing preseason games, the NHL is still stuck in the mud trying to get even an announcement out on a new regular season. We’re a week away from Christmas, and we still don’t have a schedule. We still don’t know what division in which the Avs might play. As hockey fans, we don’t seem to know much of anything.
The latest red-tape hassle has to do with the seven Canadian teams. Essentially, Canadian provincial governments have yet to sign off on safety protocols/allowances for the teams to play games in the country because of COVID-19. From Chris Johnston of Sportsnet: “As the NHL continues to work through discussions with five different provincial health authorities about its plans to stage the upcoming season, a fallback option looms in the background. The possibility of playing entirely in the United States. Sources say that’s the likely outcome if agreements can’t be reached to make the Canadian Division a reality for 2020-21.While there’s nothing concrete to indicate that the necessary government bodies won’t eventually sign off on the NHL’s plans, that had yet to happen as of Thursday night.
The NHL would prefer to have each of its seven Canadian teams based out of its own city and arena for a 56-game regular season. Play would be entirely within the realigned division, travel would be exclusively domestic and national border issues wouldn’t come into play. However, that plan requires approval from health authorities in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia and it’s believed to have met some opposition. The government prefers the bubble setup the NHL used for its summer return-to-play in Edmonton and Toronto, according to sources, but the league doesn’t believe it’s feasible to recreate that for an entire season.”
The NHL, as I reported the other day, is adamant that teams play their regular-season home games in their own buildings. That is still the plan, the goal, the objective. But the virus might have other ideas. If the Canadian teams have to move to the States, obviously the all-Canada division would be scrapped. Then, they’d have to decide who plays in what division.
I can’t imagine the nightmarish headaches Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and the rest of the NHL staff are having to deal with right now, with all this stuff. They’re doing their best. This isn’t their fault. There’s nothing we can do except let the proper authorities try to work this out. It’s starting to seem like a Jan. 13 start date is a pipe dream to me, though. I hope I am wrong but…
Some links, thoughts, observations:
- What a strange story here, about Wayne Gretzky’s memorabilia being stolen from his dad’s house, by a family friend (Hockey News)
- Reminds me of a saying I use a lot – “Money makes you do things you don’t want to do”
- I just saw episode 1 of “The Man in the High Castle” and I see a long weekend of binge-watching ahead. Lots of people say the show takes a nosedive after the first few episodes though. Anyone got more reviews, without spoiling it?
- The top-10 selling individual player reverse retro jerseys (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
- A really good sale on Avalanche reverse retro jerseys can be had by clicking here. They seem to going fast, and might not be on the page still when/if you click that, but there are a lot of other Avs jerseys at deep discounts too.
- Where will Mike Hoffman play this season? (Boston Hockey Now)
- I couldn’t agree with Larry Brooks more here when he says that Henrik Lundqvist deserved a better ending to his career than potentially having to call it quits over a heart issue. King Henrik was a great ambassador for the NHL and would have been really interesting with the Washington Capitals this season. (New York Post)
- Colleague George Richards has all the details on Anthony Duclair signing a bargain-basement one-year deal with the Florida Panthers for $1.6 million ahead of things getting going with the start of the season. (Florida Hockey Now)
- I bet $20 on the Raiders to beat the Chargers last night. How about that finish of the game, for the ultimate DaterJinx right? You’re welcome, Bronco fan/Raider Haters.
- Good column from old friend Mark Kiszla on Pierre Lacroix (Denver Post)
- The Avs, if/when the season starts, will wear something on their uniforms to honor Lacroix. Don’t know exactly in what form that will be just yet, but it’ll happen I’m told.
- Could the Washington Capitals now be in the market for Marc-Andre Fleury, now that Hank has to sit out? (Vegas Hockey Now)
- Why the Blues are likely in the market for a new forward, with the surprise retirement announcement of Alexander Steen (Hockey News)