It's not surprising, but the NHL officially postponed the Scouting Combine, NHL Awards show and 2020 NHL Draft that was originally scheduled for June 1-6, June 18 and June 26-27, respectively. Many questions still remain, but the latest development provides a little more clarity on a timeline.
For one, by pushing back the three major events, the league has acknowledged that it's not ready to punt on the 2019-20 campaign just yet. It's still hopeful that the Stanley Cup will be awarded in some capacity, even if it's forced to adjust its playoff format.
Which leads us to our next question: When could the NHL realistically finish the season?
Here's what we can piece together:
— On March 16, the NHL and NHLPA were targeting the possibility of opening a mini training camp period roughly 45 days into the 60-day period recommended by the CDC. That would have meant a return around mid-May at the earliest.
— The NHL was originally looking to squeeze in the remainder of the season by July 24 — the beginning of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo — because it would have interfered with NBC's television schedule. That's no longer the case after the IOC announced it has postponed the Olympics, likely until 2021.
— In the latest general managers conference call on Tuesday, the NHL reportedly asked teams to submit their building availabilities through the month of August.
The situation is fluid, but at this point, it doesn't make sense to start up the season as soon as possible only to shut back down again. Which brings us to a proposal that was internally discussed eight days ago, according to TSN, but has now emerged as perhaps the most likely scenario.
— A mini training camp in early July
— A finish to the regular season in late July
— Playoffs in August and September
— NHL Draft and free agency in October
— Beginning of the 2020-21 season in November, which would probably include a shortened preseason, no NHL All-Star weekend and the elimination of bye weeks in order to salvage an 82-game season.
This would allow players to treat the current hiatus as their extended offseason while also giving them another couple months after the playoffs conclude to rest and recharge before kicking things back up again.
It's not perfect, but this sure does feel like the most logical solution. And quite frankly, there aren't many alternative options.
Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.