It’s not often one gets to say that Drew Doughty is right, but he’s probably right today.
From Drew Doughty: “I don’t see how this season is going to return.”
He also doesn’t think much of the idea of hockey being played in August. “I think it would be tough to do that. It would affect next season.”
— lisa dillman (@reallisa) April 13, 2020
While I appreciate any attempts people may be making at optimism for hockey coming back soon, Doughty is right. Presumably it’s going to take until June before life in anyway begins returning to normal, where shops and restaurants open, travel bans lifted, and at best sports are allowed to be played inside of empty arenas. So assuming that happens in June, and all players traveling back to their teams will still require a couple weeks of quarantine, well, maybe brief camps can open up by late June.
Assuming there is no attempt to playing regular season games, we’ll see July and August spent on the post season. We’ll be treated to a September condensed offseason, featuring the draft, free agency, etc. and we’ll start seeing training camps again by October for a November 2020-21 season start. And it’s still hard to imagine that fans will be attending those games.
A reminder that the NHL is willing to delay the start of next season until November in order to finish off this season if possible with summer hockey. NHL believes they can play a full season next year starting in November, cancel ASG/bye week, play playoffs into late June ’21
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 13, 2020
There are still plenty of logistical issues, especially if the intent is to have a central location for those playoff games, and possibly to start the season. There is the issue of the well being of players, the wear and tear put on them after hastily conditioning for an intense playoffs, and then almost immediately jumping back into the regular season.
There’s the issue of goaltenders being especially at risk for injury in this, and there’s the cancellation of the bye week, which seems like it would be needed now more than ever.
While watching hockey again sounds pretty appealing, this seems like a lot stress to make a playoffs featuring world’s largest asterisk happen.
Of course, it’s money that talks and it’s hard to imagine the NHL walking away from salvaging any money they can get out of this largely lost year.
Perhaps rather than attempting to get anything out of this season, it’s better to think of a potential replacement for it. And I say this as someone who truly hates the World Cup of Hockey, but it’s summer, central location format is probably best suited to this situation. No noses out of joint over playoff seeding. It likely involves star players from every team, and since nothing about it in the past has been consistent, they can tailor it to fit the situation.
In addition to that, announcing the season is hold preserves the possibility of an untainted 2020-21 season, and it allows us to properly move into the offseason for hockey now. As someone who doesn’t follow the NFL, I have found myself mildly caring about it in the past few weeks because the NFL offseason is the last compelling story in sports. The NHL offseason kicking off ahead of the NBA’s and after most of the key NFL events are over, while baseball is still just a distant wonderful dream, would at least help build a little attention and excitement around the league, and potentially promoting a summer World Cup throughout the process would be beneficial for the league too.
So spare me the asterisk playoffs and the 2020-21 season where every team starts with significant injuries and exhausted goaltenders, and follow Drew Doughty’s lead and say goodbye to the 2019-20 season now.