By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Summertime National Hockey League action may be on its way.
With the NHL on an indefinite hiatus of sorts while the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak, the league has officially reached out to its 31 teams with a formal request to keep August dates at their arenas open for potential business, as outlined by the panel of league insiders on TSN's Insider Trading segment.
"Earlier today the National Hockey League did request from each of its member 31 clubs to provide available home dates for the month of August," Bob McKenzie noted. "Nobody knows anything for sure. But what we can start to figure out here, is if we're going to have a playoffs that have 2020 in front of them, there's a real good chance it could be as late as August."
The league's request is hardly a surprise, as a best-case scenario plan -- one that's likely gone out the window in recent days, mind you -- seemed to indicate May 15 as a target date for a return to game action. That would assume that such a return date would include the conclusion of the regular season (most teams have about a dozen games left) and start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. On a timeline like that, the playoffs would likely start around the normal time that we're talking about the Stanley Cup Final. So, basically push everything up two months and you'll certainly land on some August dates.
But is it doable from a logistic standpoint given the downright sweltering temperatures that tend to come around that time?
"It's going to cost more money; I mean, it's going to put a stress on those buildings in terms of refrigeration and obviously, air conditioning in the heat of summer to pull this off," Pierre LeBrun acknowledged. "It's going to take a lot more diligence, a lot more supervision from league officials. But at the end of the day, the answer is very simply yes, the NHL can do this in July and August as far as keeping the ice going."
LeBrun also noted that NBC, the NHL broadcast partner who officially lost out on their 2020 Olympics coverage thanks to the postponement of this year's Summer Games in Tokyo, would love to fill in those now-vacant timeslots with some potential live sports. The Stanley Cup Playoffs, while obviously not on the same level as the Olympics, give them that.
The NHL certainly wants to keep it going, too, as TSN's Frank Seravalli noted that canceling the remainder of the regular season and 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs could see the league lose up to $1 billion in revenue. Seravalli also went on to note that there's no belief that that money could be recovered through an insurance or bailout, either, so obviously the league wants to have a conclusion to their year that both crowns a champion and keeps their wallets fat.
The Bruins would obviously like that, too, as the league went into its indefinite delay with Boston atop the NHL standings and looking to avenge last year's Stanley Cup Final Game 7 loss on TD Garden ice.
They'll take a chance on doing exactly that even if it's on soupy August ice.