Why playing in home arenas could be tough for NHL teams in 2020-21


There's a lot on the table for how the NHL will launch the 2020-21 regular season. Seeing how the league resumed play in early August — and later awarded the Stanley Cup with no positive COVID-19 tests — after pausing in mid March due to the pandemic, one could assume it will be done in a safe and efficient manner.

Among the options being considered for how to begin the year is teams playing a series of consecutive games in their home arenas. It sounds safe and plausible upon first thought, but for a lot of clubs there could be some serious financial ramifications.

Related: How realignment, reduced schedules could shape NHL season

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk expressed concerns with the option on The Bob McCown Podcast Sunday. 

Following a Board of Governors discussion on Thursday, Melnyk pointed out that some teams don't own their home arenas and that rental costs could overwhelmingly pile up. 

“You’ve got 31 different interests. Many are aligned and many aren’t aligned. You throw the government and medicines in on top of that, you almost need an algorithm to figure out what actually will work here,” Melnyk said on the podcast. “If (some teams) open the door up there’s a big check that has to be written to whoever owns the stadium. “It’s almost to them and others who sit there and say: ‘Hey, I’m better off not playing. I’m better off financially not playing.’ Guys like me, we own the stadium and the team, and we don’t have the obstacles some others do. There’s so many moving parts. It’s very complex … Everybody wants the same thing, everybody wants to play. They wish they could turn the clock back to January and get on with it.”


Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf co-own the Hawks' home arena, the United Center.

The NHL is targeting a Jan. 1 start for the 2020-21 season.

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