According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly remains steadfast that the NHL will have an 82-game schedule for the 2020-21 season. However, Daly also told LeBrun that the previously scheduled start date of December 1 is looking less likely, with a start date of January 1 more likely at this point. The league was originally planning to start training camps on November 17 with the season opening on December 1.
LeBrun said on Wednesday’s Insider Trading that Daly, a guest LeBrun’s “Two-Man Advantage” podcast on Wednesday, doubled-down on the League’s plan to stick to an 82-game schedule for the 2020-21 season. LeBrun also stated that Daly confirmed that a December 1 start to the season was less likely, and that a tentatively scheduled start date of January 1 is more likely.
LeBrun also said that the league had no interest in holding an entire bubble season, where all games would be played at a centralized and sanitized location, which conflicts with earlier reports.
Sportsnet analyst Brian Burke appeared on the Writers’ Bloc on Wednesday and revealed that a modified bubble plan continues to be on the table. The current scenario would operate four dedicated bubble locations, with teams entering to play a number of games, and then returning home for a period of time.
Burks adds the NHL cannot just sit back and wait until a vaccine is ready for them to have fans in the stands before they decide to start their season, he says people will find other things to do and become disinterested in hockey. Jan. 1, 2021 is the latest they can wait.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) September 9, 2020
Other sports leagues have already transitioned back to a somewhat regular plan of holding games in home team arenas, but without fans in attendance. MLB, the NFL and professional golf have all returned to travel and non-bubble hotels for games. NASCAR has also begun letting fans attend events but at a significantly reduced capacity.
By Jon Sorensen