There was chatter at the end of August that both the National Hockey League and the Players’ Association were putting together a proposal for the 2020-21 season and how it could take place in bubbles once again. As it was reported by John Shannon the NHL and PA had preliminary talks about next season. One proposal was to create four bubble cities, and rotating all 31 teams in those venues in eight-game increments.
That was hard to swallow by players and staff, who already found difficult the playoff tournament which has been held in two bubble cities, in Toronto and Edmonton.
On Wednesday, Sportsnet analyst Brian Burke went on the air of the Writers’ Bloc to reveal that a bubble plan is indeed on the table and how the 2020-21 season might have to take place under such a scenario. Burke explained that for next year he has heard one scenario where there will be four bubbles and players come in for 14 days and play 7 games and then go back home and live normal lives.
And while this might not sit well with players, Burke believes the NHL has not other choice but to do so. He claims 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.
We suspect that the NHL will possibly want to delay the start of its 2020-21 season as much as possible to allow its teams to safely welcome fans during their local games, in order to earn significant additional income. But Burke has something to say about this as well: If they can only have a limited amount of fans in the arena with social distancing and required masks, so be it, if they have to come up with another bubble scenario to play an entire reg. season, you have to go with that as well.
You have to believe that the players will want to argue this and vote on that scenario.
And we can’t imagine they will agree to return in a bubble unless there is a way they can see their families and live normal lives. But that might come at a price.