Well the bubble apparently worked. It was interesting to me that in Canada the pandemic only allowed two bubble cities in Toronto and Edmonton, while the MLB Blue Jays relocated to the US in order to compete in the 60 game season.
What will that mean in January when the NHL plans to play again? Will we have a vaccine? Will fans attend games? Will teams play at home? We all respect the issue of the virus when lives are lost to it. But the league and and players do honestly wish to get back to normal. Is the NFL a legit plan? Do they want to have postponed games? Could players be isolated from friends and family like last season but for a full season? We all want hockey on the ice to be played but is everything really on the table for 2021? We pray that we can overcome Covid but is it realistic? Will politicians be involved again with blanket decisions to postpone fans attendance or postpone the season? We can hope science rules the day now.
We have a few months to hope the vaccine comes and works. But the NHL and NBA did great jobs completing the pandemic shortened seasons. Tampa won the cup and I personally do not attach any asterisks based on the difficulty the players dealt with in relative isolation to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. MLB handled serious problems on several teams with outbreaks but Miami and St Louis survived to make the playoffs. It was kind of strange to see so many games in Edmonton without the Oilers. But the Cup did come home even though being awarded to a different team. We should hope we get back to at least more normal for the financial health of the league. Teams really do need the finances of fan attendance. Let’s all hope for the best!
As for fans in the stands. Seems like they want this to return. As time has passed, those models have been whittled down. One NHL team executive said his club is down to three different scenarios:
No fans in the stands
A progressive projection, starting with no fans and then increasing to 50% and then up to 90%
An optimistic case in which the arena opens with fans, and the progression is 50% to 75% to 90% capacity
Ideally the finances of each team is drastically impacted by seat revenues.
Howson predicts it’s a decision that will need to be made “jurisdiction by jurisdiction,” depending on COVID-19 numbers and government regulations.
“We’ll have as many fans as we possibly can based on what the local health and state authorities are saying,” Howson said. “If that means we can have 75% in one market and 25% in another, that’s what we’ll follow.”
The AHL also faces a terrible dilemma without a valuable league wide television contract. They desperately need fans. Adding to the Canadian travel dilemma in the NHL, the many teams in the AHL are in the US so that’s a real problem to bring players up or down.
From ESPN the issue of travel was brought up.
“We’ve got a huge issue with the Canadian border right now, and our league is going to look a lot different if that doesn’t get resolved, though we’re all hoping it will,” league president Scott Howson said. “We have four Canadian teams, so in terms of going over the border to play them is not possible right now. And then we have Canadian NHL teams that have their AHL teams in the States. To recall players is an issue. So we need to work through that. That’s a big issue for our league, in terms of scheduling, and in terms of NHL clubs and getting access to their players if we had a normal season.”
So let’s all pray however you do that we can get back to “normal” for the strength of the league and teams to survive!
ESPN article referenced