The NHL is bound and determined to finish its season. But will it be able to? And what will the public reaction be? Those are questions that patrons at BetAnySports might be mulling over.
In its effort to come up with some kind of workable plan to finish up the season, the league understands that it may come up against the same criticism as the other pro leagues in North America, because of the extraordinary things that must be put in place.
For example, the players, as well as all corollary personnel, would have to be tested. And safety protocols would have to be put into place.
This would not be a unilateral decision on the part of the owners, of course. The Players Association needs to be in on any of these matters, since the players themselves stand to be the most at-risk group. And there are revenue issues they have to be concerned with.
And since there are various stay-at-home orders across the country, there would seem to be restrictions preventing teams from getting into their respective facilities. And the NHL doesn’t have much choice but to comply with these orders.
At this point, there is still an opportunity for the league to finish the season and then proceed into the playoffs. Where that is going to happen is still an unresolved issue. It is a foregone conclusion that fans are not going to be allowed into the venues. But obviously TV money holds a key to what is going to happen moving forward.
The idea of playing games at neutral sites appears to be the front-runner here, although Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, who has been helping to formulate the plan, has been adamant that it is “not our preferred result or outcome.”
It might logistically make sense if the league did something similar to what Major League Baseball is considering, which is to headquarter in one or two places, with the players sequestered in a sense. There would be a lot of people to be accommodated. Some have suggested moving everything over to a “safe place” in Europe, if such a thing exists, but that idea looks like a non-starter. One of the problems is a restriction on international travel, which actually winds up working both ways.
BetAnySports customers may be surprised at some of the possible cities that have been mentioned, which include Grand Forks, ND; Manchester, NH; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which are in less congested areas and may be able to accommodate the league in one way or another.
One factor that has been looming over these proceedings is the fact that as of July 1, there will be a lot of bonus money due. On a combined basis, NHL teams might owe somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million in bonuses, in fact. So it is going to take some cooperation between the owners and the Players Association to prevent a cash-flow problem before that situation presents itself – perhaps a deferment of those payments.
And what would be the reaction of the general public, which has been inconvenienced no end, to the preferred treatment given to league personnel, who would have much more access to tests, medical care, and, well, income, while they don’t? That must be considered.
In their quest for a prospective neutral site, one thing that could be very much in the NHL’s favor is the recent edict by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that grants professional sports leagues “essential” status. It had originally been meant to address World Wrestling Entertainment, but it provides such status for “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience, including any athletes……..” and is seemingly geared toward opening the door for some of these sports enterprises to start up again, if they can do it without live spectators.
In such a decision may lie the NHL’s fate for its immediate future.
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