Well, it had been a little while since my last article updating our readers on the 2020 – 2021 NHL season, and now the update I have is still questionable at best unfortunately. ESPN has reported that the January 1st, 2021 start date has become unobtainable. The league is now looking forward to a hopeful “mid-January” time frame. Why? It comes down to preparation, mainly training camps, which have not started and players report having no information of when that could happen. We also now know of a deal, made to those teams who did not play in the summer playoff held in Canada, the seven having been promised additional time to prepare for this next season.
Beyond these difficulties and setting Covid protocols, owners of the NHL teams are wanting more financial security from the NHL, as players refuse to take pay cuts and deferments. This is an ongoing situation that seems to have no end in sight, as neither side wishes to budge, making other issues like those above, wait in the wings to be solved. Gary Buttman keeps assuring fans, owners and players alike that the negotiations regarding the next season are constant. “COVID is going through a second wave, which could be worse than the first wave, and between Thanksgiving and the aftermath and what they think is going to happen for Christmas and the aftermath, we are taking our time and making sure as we look to ways to move forward. We are focused on health and safety and doing the right things.” (https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/30449238/sources-nhl-aiming-mid-january-start-52-56-game-schedule)
It is promising the commitment to keeping players, coaches, staff, and fans safe of course. This a constant since before the summer playoffs began, citing they would not happen unless the safety of all could be assured to the leagues highest ability. In alignment with this, the league has decided to shrink the season to a 56 or maybe even less, to around a 52 game this season, a far cry from the 70 or so typically played. The idea of keeping countries separated is still on the table as well, keeping the United States playing only here, while the Canada teams play each other, and remain only in Canada. How long this would happen has not been disclosed, but it is an idea that has reoccurred in talks for months now.
Bettman also said in a public meeting held Wednesday, regarding financials, “Under our deal and the one we’ve had for more than a decade with the players’ association, whatever the revenues are, the players only get 50%,” Bettman said. “And if we overpay them and they don’t pay us back in the short term, they have to pay us back over time. There will be stressors on that system, and we’ve had discussions about what those stresses are and how they might be dealt with, but we’re not trying to say, ‘You must do X, Y and Z.’ We’re trying to look for a way to continue to work together.” (https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/30449238/sources-nhl-aiming-mid-january-start-52-56-game-schedule). As you can see, there is still plenty to work out for the next season. Being already December 4th of 2020, stay tuned to Skullking Sports, as we bring you the latest updates on the 2020 – 2021 season. A lot may still change, as negotiations continue, and start dates continue to be delayed.