NHL’s Gary Bettman discusses season restart and 2020 draft

by Pete Waggoner

As COVID-19 continues its grip on the world, shutting down many day-to-day things, sports fans yearn for the return of their favorite game.   In the State of Hockey, the Minnesota Wild were in the midst of a push for a playoff spot with 13 games remaining on their schedule. They were surging at 7-3-0 in their last ten games prior to the season being suspended.  Minnesota sits just one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot.  

When the  NHL season returns, the Wild have to battle Vancouver and division rivals Nashville and Winnipeg in what was beginning to look like a dramatic dog fight to the finish.  Nipping at Minnesota’s heels, just three points behind them, are the Arizona Coyotes.  While the return of sports and entertainment will look much different than what all are accustomed to, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined  “In Conversation with Ron MacClean from SportsNet last week that was posted on the NHL.com website. 

Bettman discussed the potential of having four locations that will host the remaining 189 regular season games in four regional locations.  While Bettman did not divulge what those locations could potentially be, it was reported by The Atlantic that the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is one of them.  

The story suggested that markets considered are not in COVID-19 hotspots and have the ability to deliver four NHL level locker rooms in the home arena.  Minnesota boasts one of the lowest per capita infection rates in the nation and The Xcel Energy Center does provide the locker room capability.   Additionally, there needs to be enough high end hotels in the market to hold a number of teams with quality rinks that can be used for practice facilities.  The Twin Cities certainly boasts that with many big time high school locker rooms.  

As reported from Sportsnet on Monday, April 27th, there is a potential timeline that has been mentioned by team management and player agents where teams may be reporting to their individual practice facilities around May 15th for informal workouts.  The teams will then have a full length training camp and exhibition games will begin June 1st and run through June 30th while the season will resume July 1st.  Bettman was clear that the players would have a full training camp and that the NHL have time on their site and can and will  push the 2021-2022 season back to a later start.  

All plans are in fluid and it is a situation that changes by the day.  There is some stirring when it comes to the next steps for the NHL and competing for the Stanley Cup.  Whether there are fans on not in each building,the return of sporting competition will be a welcome sight for all.  

Click here to view Bettman’s full interview.