The NHL is no stranger to work stoppages, but the current state of the sports landscape — and the world in general — is unprecedented. The nature of this stoppage has caused leagues to take drastic measures and explore the possibility of playing in bubble cities, with players sequestered in hotels and no fans permitted to attend games.
Former Flyers coach Mike Keenan expressed concern about that possibility.
“I don’t know what that means, without any fans, I don’t know what it means in terms of driving the sport forward," Keenan said to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Michael Barkann in a recent interview. "Maybe there’s an economic impact and the fact that they can draw sponsors into an arena like that.
“I really search for the reason or answer why they would want to participate that way, and what is the need — is it an economic need for the ownership, is it a need for the players who are so passionate for what they do?”
Either way, a decision of that magnitude will have many layers and details to work out, and not everyone will be pleased, regardless of the decision that is made.
“Whether those men would want to be away from their families in isolation for such an extended period of time I think will be debated amongst the players,” Keenan said.
The NHL and its teams, like any business, are losing revenue during the hiatus, and whichever way the league decides to resume its operations, finances are sure to be one of the deciding factors.
“The owners have to make a decision: Can they drive this concept hard enough economically to make it worth their while to pay the players?" Keenan said. "At the same time, they have ownership. They don’t do it for nonprofit.
"Can the owners generate in that environment with so many teams in one place, the economic results to have them be able to have them all pay the players? I don't know if that would work or not."
The NHL will surely be monitoring what their counterparts in other pro sports leagues do moving forward, as well.
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