It might be the offseason but the National Hockey League and commissioner Gary Bettman cannot take any time off getting ready for the upcoming season. While no official decision has been made on what will happened to the league’s 2020-21 season, we hear a lot of scenarios and how things might look on and off the ice in the coming months. Finally on Friday, Bettman addressed the latest rumours reporting that the 2020-21 campaign won’t start in early December, which was once of the first scenario the NHL put out there when it announced the Return to Play plan back in June.
It has become obvious that most teams need to safely welcome fans during their local games, in order to earn significant additional income, however, it sounds hard to make that a reality, especially with the current second wave of the coronavirus. On the air of TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Bettman admitted that the start of the 2020-21 campaign could come at a much later date than first expected.
“We don’t know know whether or not we’ll have fans in the building. We don’t know about COVID in the future. We don’t even know about travel restrictions. We’re focusing on what the options are. We’d like to open Dec. 1 but that might slide to late Dec/Jan.”
The bad news didn’t stop there. We already know that the salary cap has been flattened for the upcoming season, staying put at $81.5 million with several teams struggling to get under it, but Bettman revealed that it will have to remains flattened for several years.
“Cap will be flat for at least a couple years. Because we could be down 800M-1B due to COVID, the cap theoretically may need to come down. We decided not to because it may be disruptive. When things get back to normal, hopefully we catch back up to where we we were.”
While Bettman is hopeful that the league can get it back up in the coming years, the fact that no one knows when the 2020-21 season will be underway and if fans will be allowed in the arenas, are huge hurdles.
Teams better do the tough math now and get used to it.