You know what I don’t understand from a Boston Bruins perspective, from an NHL perspective or from a “somebody that just loves hockey” perspective?
Why on Earth would you be actively rooting for the NHL and the NHLPA to cancel the entire 2020-21 season just as we’re on the cusp of a vaccine being introduced to the general public? Some health experts think we could be approaching some semblance of normalcy again by April or May and now we’re supposed to just throw in the towel after mask-wearing and social distancing for the last eight months?
Some like Pittsburgh hot take-meister Mark Madden have put together their molten lava “takes” this week saying that the NHL should just punt on the entire season and start over next year when presumably the COVID-19 pandemic will be at bay.
Certainly there is going to be a financial reckoning for the NHL kick-starting a season in January presumably without fans in the stands, with the hope and expectation that some level of fandom can return over the course of the regular season and the playoffs. But we’re already seeing shared urgency from both the NHL and the NHLPA that some fiscal arrangement will need to be made that will allow for both sides to survive fiscally and for the games to be played.
It could be salary deferment or a bigger escrow amount, but certainly it’s going to be an adjustment to lower league revenues for the upcoming season.
Some creative NHL teams, like the Boston Bruins and the Penguins, are even looking at outdoor venues as a method to host some fan-based home games while indoor arenas may be off-limits to ticket sales. Clearly something will have to give as NHL teams estimate it would cost $150 million per team to put on a full season, and the current TV deals only reimburses them for roughly 30 percent of that expenditure of capital.
Right now it doesn’t look good in New England for paying crowds as Patriots games have been without fans all season, but things could change pretty dramatically within a couple of months if the combination of safety protocols and vaccine allow things to take a better turn by the end of our current, so-called “dark winter.”
The bottom line, however, for the NHL is that both the owners and the players can’t afford to skip an entire season. It took them a long time to dig themselves out from skipping the 2004-05 season due to the CBA locket, and the very survival of the sport could be at stake if they simply disappeared for an entire calendar year while the NBA, the NFL and Major League Baseball simply plan on because they have more lucrative TV deals.
Sure it’s going to feel weird again this season for an NHL that’s going to have to do some unconventional things, but so it just about everything else right now.
A league source indicated to Boston Hockey Now this weekend that the NHL season is expected to start in January and that training camps will likely be underway right after the holidays. So, all the hot takers that actively rooted against an NHL season can stick that in their pipe and smoke it when the NHL is back in the next six weeks or so.
On to the links:
*The big news at BHN this weekend: A source told our Jimmy Murphy that there will be an NHL season in 2020-21 “unless COVID-19 makes it impossible.” Take that, doomsayers! (Boston Hockey Now)
*This story from Geoff Courtnall about strategically running the goalie with Brett Hull is about as old school hockey as you get. (Cam & Strick Podcast)
This story of Geoff Courtnall and Brett Hull masterminding a play to run goalie Jamie Storr is truly among the best of all time. With Mrs. Courtnall in the wives room with Storr’s wife. Can’t make this up. 👇👇👇 @camandstrickpod pic.twitter.com/Ip9QaKOCLZ
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) December 4, 2020
*The Hockey News has a new “Storytellers” podcast feature on their website with super-agent Ian Pulver as the first guess spinning some hockey yarns. (Hockey News)
*No David Pastrnak among the top-10 fantasy hockey players for the 2021 NHL season? I guess it makes sense based on the Boston Bruins sniper’s recovery from injury, but we’re still talking about a young superstar that led the league in goals last season.
The TOP 10 Fantasy players for the 2021 NHL season as ranked by @Rotoworld_HK.
Who are you taking with the first pick?! 🧐 pic.twitter.com/PDgVs17aYd
— #ThankYouDoc (@NHLonNBCSports) December 1, 2020
*Great story from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Paul Dupont about the Fist Bump Kid and his great new Christmas present from his very good friend Torey Krug. Boston Bruins super-fan Liam Fitzgerald is a special kid and Krug is a special professional athlete that truly “gets it.” (Boston Globe)
*How are the Golden Knights going to make it work cap-wise next season if both Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner are on the roster? It’s not an easy question or answer. (Vegas Hockey Now)
*For something completely different: Snoop Dog apparently wants three years and $15 million to do color commentary for sporting events. I say Give Snoop whatever he wants. (Maxim)