98.5 The Sports Hub staff report
Bubbles may not be a one-off for the National Hockey League. At least if NHL commissioner Gary Bettman listens to the advice given to him by Dr. Anthony Fauci, as revealed by TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
“I’m told that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has sought the counsel of Dr. Tony Fauci from the National Institutes of Health over the course of this pandemic, and one of the recommendations that Dr. Fauci had made to Gary Bettman over the last number of weeks was, ‘If you want to pull this off and start the NHL season safely, the best way to do that would be in hubs,” Seravalli revealed. “That’s not the preference of both clubs and players, but I’m told that hubs very much remain a Plan B and are on the table.”
The NHL, of course, went with Edmonton and Toronto bubbles for their 2020 summer restart, which lasted just over two months, and came with varying reviews from those inside it. There were players who felt that the experience was not what the NHL sold them on during their Return To Play discussions, while others were simply happy for the opportunity to compete.
Speaking with NHL.com Wednesday, Bettman confirmed the possibility of bubbles, but seemingly stressed that it’s not possible to implement for an entire season.
“Right now, we’re focused on whether or not we’re going to play in our buildings and do some limited traveling or play in a bubble, and that’s something we’re working on and getting medical advice on,” Bettman said. “We don’t think we can conduct an entire regular season that way, but circumstances, depending on where COVID is spiking and where the medical system is being taxed at any given time, may require us to adjust.”
The NBA, which shares multiple facilities with the NHL and used an Orlando bubble for their restart this past summer, are not implementing this system, and are instead allowing teams to use empty arenas in their home cities. Early testing in the NBA revealed just one positive test among players, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Should temporary bubbles be required in the NHL, however, U.S. cities in the mix to host traveling teams include Newark, Columbus, and Las Vegas, while Toronto and Edmonton would resume their roles as hubs in Canada, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
The NHL is still targeting a mid-January start to a 2021 season they hope will be at least 52 games long.
Listen to Ty Anderson and Matt Dolloff talk about the Bruins, COVID, and more in the newest episode of the SideLines podcast below.