With the NHL in a “pause” due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league held a conference call with all 31 general managers on Wednesday afternoon and decided the annual combine in Buffalo and the awards in Las Vegas, along with the draft that was set to be in Montreal this year, all have been postponed.
The combine was set to take place the first week of June, while the awards were scheduled for June 18, normally as close to the end of the Stanley Cup final as possible. The draft was set to be held June 26-27. The only update the league provided was that “the location, timing and format of the 2020 NHL Draft (and Draft Lottery) will be announced when details are finalized.”
The league also decided to extend the players’ self-quarantine from the original date of March 27 to April 4. Players were allowed to travel home if they wanted, as many did. The league also asked teams to work with their arenas to find dates for potential games — now stretching into August, when previously they had said July.
It seems rather optimistic that the NHL and the Players’ Association will be able to work through all of the details needed to restart the season at any point without ruining the start of the 2020-21 season, with training camps scheduled for September. Since the league shut down on March 12, there have been far more questions than answers, and that continues to be the case.
“From a medical perspective, I think we’d have to understand what
“Once we know what those things are, I think we can make a more intelligent decision.”
Only two NHL players have tested positive for the virus, both on the Senators, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the quarantine date was “meaningless at this point in time. As we get closer to the date, we’re going to have to make decisions as to what to do then. We’re biting this off in chunks.”
Now that the Olympics have been pushed back, there is a big broadcasting opening for NBC in late summer. The league’s broadcast affiliate certainly would love to have some hockey at that time, but it’s hard to gauge whether that’s going to be possible.
“It’s difficult to predict where the pandemic is going and what the timeline will be,” Meeuwisse said. “But we do expect this is going to get worse before it gets better.”