It’s been almost two months since the COVID-19 Pandemic brought the entire world and the every day routines we take for granted to a screeching halt. Since that time, thousands have died, and the impact on people worldwide is being felt. Governments and businesses are working to try and have some kind of stability moving forward, as they look into how and when to re-open society safely. One of the things a lot of people want to know is when we can expect sports to return, and yesterday the NHL released a statement to update where they are in this process. If you were looking for a clear sign that a return is in sight, you’re going to be disappointed.
The NHL and NHLPA are looking ahead to Phase 2 of transition to follow the self-quarantine period. There is no set timeline to return. https://t.co/LBzOahcQTk— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) April 30, 2020
There’s a lot that has to happen, and go right in order for this to even be a possibility. And even then, they also have to ensure that the players are on board with this plan, which according to what we’ve seen previously, would involve a city hosting a number of teams in their division, and the games being played there among all those divisional rivals. It would require players to leave their families for up to 3 months depending on how the playoffs pan out, something that might not sit well with all of them.
There’s also the risk factor involved in getting back to playing too early. Without a working vaccine available, it’s a definite gamble for all involved. And as we’ve seen so far with the way the coronavirus has effected people, being young and in shape isn’t a guarantee that any of them could get it and not have it affect them. Being a primarily respiratory disease in nature, getting this virus could end a players career if it’s a serious infection, because of the damage that the disease does to their lungs. You have to think that the owners are looking at this possibility, because let’s face it: Francesco Aqualini may be a gambling man, but do you think he wants to wager Elias Pettersson or Quinn Hughes to get the game back?
And yet, as weird as the host cities idea sounds, it may be the least risky of the two choices, because it won’t require as much travel. So why then are they so gung-ho to get back to the season rather than just either going straight to playoffs at a later date or cancelling it all together? Well, it has everything to do with business genius, Gary Bettman.
My understanding on why the #NHL is still considering completion of the regular season despite the fact it is roughly 85% complete & time will be of the essence in any re-start:— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) May 1, 2020
Twelve U.S.-based clubs have Fox regional TV deals & those deals stipulate that regular season games
must be completed.— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) May 1, 2020
Failure to do so comes with a severe penalty: the deals roll over to next season at no cost to Fox. So, those teams would face no regional TV revenue, which would in turn hurt hockey-related revenue (HRR) for the whole league.
This is the guy that constantly gets praised for doing so much for the game. He’s done a lot for the million and billionaire owners, sure. But this deal is insane, especially when you consider they had no insurance policy of any kind against something like this happening. I don’t care how much or how little you know about business, that just seems like something you should look at and go “are we really sure we want to sign off on this, because the worst case scenario is very bad for us?”. And so we have the possibility that the NHL tries a restart and it indeed comes back to bite them on the ass. And if they get out of it with only a financial loss, it will be a small miracle.