NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman appeared on NBC Sports Network’s Lunch Talk Live with Mike Tirico Tuesday afternoon to discuss the status of the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says on @NHLonNBCSports it’s still a few weeks away from making a decision whether to resume and he hopes to know more by end of April.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) April 7, 2020
“From an NHL standpoint, we’re viewing all of our options. We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light — and the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the [U.S. and Canada] where we can’t play and others places where you can. We’re looking at all options. Nothing’s been ruled in, nothing’s been ruled out. And it’s largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on as well.”
Bettman emphasized that fairness to all teams will be critical in the return to hockey:
“Our clubs, if nothing, are extraordinarily competitive, and whatever we do has to be fair, which is why there’s been some public speculation in the media about neutral site game in remote parts of the country,” he told Tirico. “That’s just part of considering all the potential options, depending on how we find the circumstances. But when you talk about fairness, we also have issues about if we get to play a playoffs, who gets in if we can’t complete the regular season. We had seven teams on the bubble and all they think they would have had a chance. We have to deal with the lottery and order of selection in the draft.
“The best thing, and the easiest thing, would be if at some point we could complete the regular season and then go into the playoffs as we normally do. We understand that that may not be possible and that’s why we’re considering every conceivable alternative to deal with whatever the eventuality is. Again, it doesn’t even pay to speculate because nobody in any of the sports knows enough now to make those profound decisions.”
The NHL’s board of governors had a phone call with Gary Bettman and Bill Daly on Monday afternoon and the picture remains cloudy at best.
The commissioner and deputy commissioner have been providing the governors with a bi-weekly update on league issues and the latest from the medical experts they’ve been working with regarding COVID-19. Bettman and Daly both speak with the owners individually regularly, but this was an opportunity to have everybody on the same call to discuss what the next steps may be.