The NHL continues to explore different scenarios as it prepares to conclude the 2019-20 season in some form but appears to be pivoting from the idea of continuing in centralized locations and is now looking into the possibility of resuming in each team's home cities, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post. The players reportedly opposed the idea of being away from their families for several months in a row.
Former Blackhawks center and current Montreal Canadiens star Phillip Danault was the most vocal after telling reporters earlier in the week he was strongly against the idea and sensed he wasn't the only player to feel the same way.
“It really makes no sense, in my head, to distance myself for two months from my kid,” Danault said. “And I imagine it makes even less sense for those who would go far in the playoffs, who are on playoff teams right now. If a team goes to the Stanley Cup Final, it could be three to four months. It’s inhumane to do that, as far as I’m concerned. But the league has to make a decision and I imagine the players will have to vote on it, and I’m not sure they’ll be in favour of being away from family for two-to-three months.”
Danault certainly makes a valid point, but the logistics — most notably, testing and travel — could be a major challenge if the NHL and NHLPA don't come up with some sort of compromise to make things as safe and as fair as possible whenever hockey does return.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in an interview with NHL Network on Thursday that the league is considering pushing back the 2020-21 season to as late as December but cautioned nothing is close to being finalized yet. It remains a fluid situation.
"We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start," Bettman said. "There's no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that's something that will be under consideration. We're going to try to make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn't a race to be first back."
The NHL and NHLPA is hoping to move to "Phase 2" by mid-to-late May, which would allow players to return to small group activities in NHL club training facilities.Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.