It wasn’t quite the famous 1994 guarantee by Mark Messier against the Devils, but this week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman went so far as to say that he “didn’t even consider” d ‘cancel season.
“I believe that if the right time comes and the right circumstances, based on all the options we are considering and our ability to execute them, we will have this season finished,” Bettman said at a virtual town hall on Tuesday. hosted by the San Jose Sharks, according to Mercury News.
The comments came on the same day that the MLB and NBA met with their unions to find a way to start and restart their respective seasons. The three leagues are facing most of the same barriers to reopening in the coming months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I don’t want to ring Pollyanna, but canceling is too easy,” said 67-year-old Bettman. “It means you stop working hard to do everything we do, and ultimately I believe there will be an opportunity.
“States reopen, cities reopen. And if we do the right things, I think we will be able to finish the season. “
There have been discussions that the NHL could organize a training camp and then organize a 24-team eliminatory tournament (which would include Rangers and Islanders) in one or more locations, to help curb the spread of the virus, as previously reported by Larry Brooks of the Post. The goal would be for players to be tested often for the virus, but that could be embarrassing if the U.S. doesn’t increase testing.
Bettman, who has been a commissioner for 27 years, also said pushing back next season is on the table.
“We would like to conclude this season,” he said. “It has to be fair, it has to show integrity, and if we have to do it over the summer on a modified basis, we will do it on that basis.”
“You are going to be a little flexible with the schedule, because we want to be able to bring the match back, both to conclude this season on some basis and to have a full regular season next year. If that means we have to be more flexible, so that’s what we will do. “
The 2019-2020 season was interrupted on March 12 in response to the coronavirus, and the players stayed on a stay-at-home notice that is still in effect.
There has been no official schedule for the opening of the team’s facilities, as the NBA did last week in states that have relaxed social distancing restrictions. International and US restrictions on border crossing in place are also a delicate barrier for the league, which has players from around the world.
“We would like to conclude this season,” said Bettman. “It has to be fair, it has to be fair, and if we have to do it over the summer on a modified basis, we will do it on that basis.”