Could the NHL be playing in July and August? It's being considered.
Hockey in July? And August?
It's apparently something the NHL is considering after holding a conference call with general managers Tuesday.
There is talk about completing the regular season, having a postseason and then beginning the 2020-21 campaign in November.
Let's go over some of the main issues facing the league as it mulls over these decisions in the wake of coronavirus:
• Ice quality. Hot and humid conditions make for awful ice conditions. Imagine what the surfaces will be like in Tampa Bay, Florida, Las Vegas, Dallas and Nashville. Heck, we all know how brutal summers can be in Chicago, St. Louis and Minnesota too.
The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun believes arenas can pull it off, however, pointing out that the Stanley Cup Final is played every June.
• Off-season issues. The official start to every season begins July 1, meaning a legal hurdle must be cleared so that contracts of unrestricted free agents do not expire.
Free agency could open a week after the Stanley Cup Final, and the league figures to hold the draft shortly thereafter.
• It really makes no sense to restart the regular season. Perhaps extend the playoff field a bit by creating some play-in games. Then shorten the first two rounds to best-of-5s. If you do this and you schedule series so that teams play every other day, the postseason should end no later than Aug. 22.
• Let's assume for a second that all of this happens. Beginning the 2020-21 season in November isn't exactly ideal.
Most teams play 10 to 12 games in October, which means -- assuming everyone is slated to play 82 games -- you're going to have to squeeze things into a much tighter window. The NHL can solve this by doing three things: Remove each team's off week; cancel the All-Star Game; and extend the season 7 to10 days.
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