The longer that the NHL remains out of action while continuing to maintain that they want to complete the 2019-20 regular season and have a full postseason, the more likely it becomes that next season will be affected. Boston Bruins president Cam Neely tells NBC Sports that not only is it possible that 2020-21 could be delayed, it’s a widely accepted outcome across the NHL in order to properly finish the current season. Neely states that both players and owners alike feel that it is important to complete the 2019-20 campaign if at all possible:
The feeling is there’s an opportunity to be able to push next season back and still get an 82-game schedule in next year. Everything is on the table to try and get the season completed.
Neely’s stress that a full season next year remains an important part of any plan to continue the current season aligns with what the NHL has already said. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has already confirmed that the NHL would not entertain shortening the 2020-21 season just to accommodate the end of the 2019-20 season. However, that doesn’t seem like it will be necessary. The league is currently exploring using “hub cities” from each of the four divisions to play a condensed schedule that can be more easily safeguarded from the threats of Coronavirus by limiting travel and controlling facilities. Such a plan could allow for the season to re-start sooner rather than later. In fact, there have been whispers that training camps could open within a month with games starting as early as June. What remains to be seen is how much time would be needed one play does resume to wrap up the regular season and play the entire postseason.
Neely’s Bruins are one club especially invested in a continuation of the season. Boston was in first place in the league standings by a fairly wide margin when the season was suspended and many of their core players are in the twilight of their careers and want another shot at the Stanley Cup, especially after missing out on the title by one game last year. In fact, the Bruins may even be in favor of jumping straight to the postseason, though Neely does not believe that the NHLPA would approve of that plan. It seems Boston will have to earn the President’s Trophy with a few more regular season wins before getting their shot a potential delayed playoffs.