98.5 The Sports Hub staff report
Speaking in a virtual town hall for business partners of the San Jose Sharks, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman described cancelling the 2019-20 season as “not something I’m even contemplating.”
The NHL season was suspended on March 12 due to nationwide shutdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bruins had 12 games left to play at the time, while the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders had the most remaining games with 14 each.
Bettman remains determined to resume the season, pointing to states that have already begun reopening as a reason why he believes the NHL will be able to return before the end of the year.
“I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done,” Bettman said (via the Mercury News). “I don’t want to sound Pollyanna, but canceling is too easy a solution. That means you stop working hard to do all of the things that we’re doing, and I ultimately believe that there will be an opportunity.”
The NHL has reportedly been willing to push back the start of the 2020-21 season and delay the return of the current campaign, if it means they can avoid cancelling altogether. The league and players association are already beyond developing the initial stages of a return and are working on phase 2, as they said in a recent statement.
Minor league affiliates at the AHL won’t be following Bettman’s lead. The AHL has cancelled the remainder of their 2019-20 season and playoffs. But Bettman’s public comments continue to suggest that the NHL will return once the league feels safe enough to do so.