Boston Bruins President Cam Neely held a virtual town hall with Bruins season ticket holders Thursday night and like NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated Wednesday night, the league will not allow a shortened 2020-21 season just to salvage this season.
“They do not want to compromise next year’s schedule,” Neely said. “This year has already been compromised, to a degree. It will look differently if we get up and running, possibly. But we don’t want to compromise next year. We do feel like we could start later and still not compromise the number of games played.”
Over the last two days, an actual return to finish the regular season seemed more real than it has yet since the NHL went on pause due to the Coronavirus on March 12. After Bettman also on Wednesday, discussed the potential return scenario that could involve four NHL cities hosting the rest of the regular season and playoff games, NHL agent Allan Walsh told TSN 690 in Montreal Thursday, prior to Neely addressing the season ticket holders, that this specific proposal is “more than spitballing” and indicated that if Coronavirus guidelines can be met, there is a much better chance we could see some hockey in July. Walsh also said that the goal is to get rid of the remaining regular season games and make a new schedule that got each team to 78 games before the Stanley Cup playoffs begin.
On Thursday, Neely indicated that was true and that both the players and the league are raring to go.
“I can tell you this: Both the players and NHL want to do whatever possible to get this season completed,” Neely said during the town hall. “If it means playing into the summer, we’re all willing to do that if it means pushing next season back. It’s an opportunity to push and still get an 82-game season in the following year. We’re going to be as patient as possible. Players are doing everything they can to keep themselves in the best shape they can before we can hopefully get back to some sort of training camp and get on the ice. Everything is on the table to try and get this season completed, which is exciting for us. I know our players are very excited about it based on where we finished when the pause took place and the potential our group has.”
🎥 #NHLBruins president Cam Neely checked in with season ticket holders this evening to talk about where things stand with the NHL's pause, the 2011 virtual reunion, and….Sea Bass: pic.twitter.com/Yiau6eT2Lf
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 23, 2020
One suddenly likely scenario has the NHL Entry Draft still being held in June and then this season and the playoffs being completed after the draft in July and August. Walsh, who doesn’t agree with such a plan, said an NHL general manager told him it’s very likely to happen and pointed out why.
“One GM said to me ‘You know Allan, our history being on these calls with the league, when something like this gets floated out there, it’s very likely the decision is close to being made’ so there is an assumption amongst most teams right now that it’s full steam ahead for a June draft unless notified otherwise,” Walsh said.
Walsh did indicate that there is a growing sentiment from NHL teams against a June draft and the league may not get what it wants.
“But I do think if enough NHL teams provide feedback that they’re against that, I think at the end of the day, the league has to listen to that,” Walsh said.
Well, if what Neely said regarding a June draft is any indication then the Bruins will be amongst those teams that vote against the draft still occurring in June. As Neely pointed out, even though the Bruins don’t have a first round pick, there are too many things that could still happen before the season and the playoffs were completed that affect the draft.
“A lot of trades happened at the deadline that were contingent on what happens with that team in the playoffs or that player in the playoffs,” Neely said. “It could affect your draft choice. A lot of things have to be worked out to have the draft prior to finding out who the Stanley Cup champion is. It could affect some transactions that have already taken place.”