The raucous coronavirus outbreak has already amended the NHL routine and doesn’t seem like it will back off. The 2019-20 season was suspended on March 12, and it`s unclear now when the 2020-21 season will start.
The season is going to be 2-months late, the same with the playoffs and the draft session. According to Pierre LeBrun`s, we should await a late start in December or January. Despite all this, the 103rd playing season is still going to consist of 82 games with the Cup final in the summer. There are good chances that the league will get back on its feet by the beginning of the 2021-22 season starting in October.
Stanley Cup playoffs
As we mentioned, the restraints affect both the regular season and the playoffs. They were postponed till August 2020. Apart from that, the means of preventing contagion may result in playoff games being conducted without fans being present in the stands. They will have a chance to watch the games remotely at best. The finals are scheduled for September 20th – October 2nd at the latest. It`s going to be a 24-team format, unlike the 16-team format being used during the previous seasons.
The draft and the training camps
For now, we have info that the 2020 NHL draft is beginning on the 6th of October despite its original schedule on 26-27th of June. The outcome can also be seen virtually. What is not so fun for players is the beginning of the training camps. They are postponed till the 17th of November, which is almost two weeks before the regular season begins. It will undoubtedly affect the players` conditions, especially at first.
We might look at the current situation from a different perspective. If the league can do nothing about bringing people to the stadiums in the next few months, it can focus on enhancing our spectators’ experience. The new-made player and puck tracking technologies are going to be implemented soon, enabling speed displays, puck tracking graphics, and marker graphics hovering above players. This technology is debuting during the Stanley Cup playoffs in August and who knows, maybe it can compensate our inability to be present there and support our favorite teams. Who said that the virtual presence is less entertaining? We shall see.
As we have seen, the regular season and complementary events are surviving almost 2-months delay due to protective means against the virus outbreak. The NHL officials are taking the challenge responsibly, providing us with tempting solutions, and even though it`s going to be tough, the league`s routine is going to return to its normal condition quite soon.
Which hockey game do you wait for the most?