Up to four NHL arenas would host three games a day without supporters in one of the scenarios the league plans to end the season, commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet on Wednesday.
The NHL, which halted the season on March 12 due to concerns over the coronavirus, also offered to general managers to hold the 2020 NHL Entry Draft in June before the season ends.
“It was a test balloon,” said Commissioner Bettman of the proposed proposal. “No decision has been made. And I said while we were receiving comments,” We no longer live in a perfect world. We will have to make adjustments. “
“Ideally from our point of view – and that would solve a lot of problems – it would be if we could finish the regular season, even if it’s on a centralized basis, and then enter the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] the way we normally play them.
“It would be ideal. But it is, again, one of the many models we are looking at, and if we cannot make the ideal, if we cannot make the perfect, we will have to find the next step perfect. “
The NHL has decided not to play in non-NHL arenas on neutral sites because the League arenas are better equipped to meet its needs if it decides to centralize games.
“We can’t play in a small university rink in the middle of a small community, because if we want to be centralized, we need the back of the house that the NHL arenas provide, be it several locker rooms, be it technology, procedures, panels and glass, video replay, broadcast facilities, “said Commissioner Bettman.
The NHL would need four NHL caliber locker rooms in each arena because if it plays three games a day in an arena, it will have to use proper disinfection procedures when the teams go in and out, the commissioner said.
Commissioner Bettman stressed the number of cities and the locations have not been decided. The NHL models to make sure it is ready for anything.
“It may be two cities,” said the commissioner. “It’s not something we can predict right now. But it’s part of the contingencies. It doesn’t have to be by division, although centralization can be by division.”
“But the particular location could be anywhere that is not a hot spot and has what we need both in terms of the arena and to have training facilities, because if you bring seven or eight clubs in a particular facility and you play a lot of games on a regular basis without traveling, you need ice for practice. “
The NHL has recommended that players and staff quarantine themselves until April 30. The first step towards the resumption of the season would be for players to train at the team’s facilities. The next step would be a training camp which, according to Commissioner Bettman, based on a conversation with the players and the NHL Players’ Association, should last at least three weeks.
Commissioner Bettman said the NHL is under no pressure to be the first major North American sports league to resume its season.
“This is not a race,” said the commissioner. “The stakes are too high. … Although some of them have been able to train in terms of physical strength in the past weeks, the fact is that none of our guys have really skated. We are going to have to make sure they are ready to play, because we do not want to put them on the ice and risk injury and their careers. So we’re going to need time to get back to the right, and when we come back, it will be having done the right things. “
The idea of keeping the repechage before the end of the season poses problems, such as determining the repechage order and what to do with certain contingent repechage choices. But waiting months for the project would present another set of problems.
“That’s why you have to look at all the options, balance them and try to make good judgment, and we do it with feedback from our clubs, of course,” said Commissioner Bettman. “We are not sitting alone saying,” This is what we are doing, period. “”
The NHL also listens to authorities.
“Ultimately, the decision will be made by doctors and government officials at all levels, so we will not try to do anything that is contrary to what we are told,” said said the commissioner. said.
“… But clearly, we can play in the summer. Obviously, we can play next season, which we plan to do in full, starting later. And so, with a lot timing options, we have a lot of flexibility, and we’re not going to rush anything. We’re not going to do anything crazy. We’re going to try to do something, under the circumstances of the time, that makes sense. “