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Marchessault And Doughty Show Challenge NHL Will Have Whenever It’s Safe To Restart

The prudent answers are “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” “when it’s safe,” or even “I have no idea.” Player after player after manager after owner, even the commissioner, are non-committal, uninsightful and frankly unassuring.

We’re exploring all options but when we will have an opportunity to return depends on things we have absolutely no control over. –Gary Bettman on CNN

Enter Jonathan Marchessault and Drew Doughty.

Oh, it’s impossible that it’s over. It’s just impossible. Honestly, I don’t play 70 regular season games to not play in the playoffs. I just don’t do that. I think the NHL thinks the same, because that’s why every hockey player is playing. –Marchessault to VegasGoldenKnights.com

Honestly I don’t see how the season is going to return. We’re all kind of just sitting at home obviously hoping to return to the season or hope to watch the playoffs return. I would think the NHL or whoever would make the decision would have to make some kind of decision on that soon. And it seems like it’s going to be pretty tough to return, resume the season or playoffs. –Doughty to The Athletic

Rays of truth. Polar opposites, but truth.

The challenge the NHL is presented is illustrated inside these two quotes.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On one side you have a player whose team is sitting in 1st place in the division and has his eyes set on the Stanley Cup. On the other side, there’s a guy whose season ended long ago and his focus is on 2020-21 when he and his teammates start fresh.

Both broke stride of the hockey norm to actually spew some honesty. Publicly, there won’t be many like these two, there just aren’t enough Drew Doughtys and Jonathan Marchessaults in the world. But privately, every player, every coach, every manager, every executive, every owner, and even every fan has their truth and unfortunately, there’s not a solution to please everyone.

Each of the 31 teams sits in a different place and when the world finally allows a return to hockey, the NHL will be tasked with the impossible job of finding a solution that the fewest number of people hate.

Aside from just the competition that is sports, there are financial aspects, health issues, timing questions, and the list goes on. What works for one group may not work for another.

You have to love Marchessault’s optimism and it’s unquestionably shared by hundreds who stand in the same shoes. But Doughty’s point is also fair and hundreds more see it from that side as well.

No matter when the pandemic subsides to a point in which hockey is even a possibility, there will be a fight and an epic one. One the NHL has never faced before. There is no simple answer and there is no way to please everyone.

In the end, it’ll come down to money. In which scenario can the most people make the most money? That’s the ultimate solution the league will choose because when all is said and done, hockey is a business just like any other.

What that solution looks like? Your guess is as good as mine. But when you read or hear ideas being thrown around, take a step back from the competitive balance apsect, back off the health concerns, and don’t worry about the when or where, just follow the money. That’s where you’ll come closest to the seeing the future end to this seemingly endless nightmare.

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27 Comments

  1. Walt T

    Doughty also mentioned he hasn’t skated in a month. If the league starts up, the playoff product will be a watered-down version of the playoffs without the intensity we expect from the greatest playoffs of any sport. The second season requires physical and mental preparedness that cannot happen this year. I prefer them putting a fork in the season, and preparing for training camp. Winning the cup this year will be worth almost nothing to many as there will be a stigma attached.

    • I don’t agree that it would be watered down. No matter when they restart there will be an extended training camp to get everyone back up to speed.

    • April l.

      Doughty would have missed the playoffs anyway so his not skating in a month is irrelevant. If the kings were playoff contenders he’d be singing a very different tune for sure!

      • He actually agreed to that point in a different interview. The problem is that everyone is in the situation they are in and they aren’t going to be willing to think outside their own situations when the time comes.

  2. Coyote

    OK, here’s a thought that I haven’t heard yet. It may be ridiculous – and if so flame me for it. Maybe combine this year and next. Like two halves – so the combined season will have 164 games. Means every team still has a shot, and this season’s games won’t be wasted. I suppose the contracts, free agencies, etc. would make all of this impossible. And the draft. I have hope the season will be able to continue somehow, but Doughty does have a fair point.

    • Jim

      There’s just way to many issues right now. This supposed “sterile” location they would like to develop is a pipe dream. Nobody (including players, officials, coaches, trainers etc) have any interest in spending 3 months in downtown nowhere away from family.
      Another issue nobody talks about is injuries. How do you replace injured players with minor league not operating?
      I say we don’t see hockey till at least fall.

  3. To me the biggest issue of not restarting is all the player trades and contracts that expire in July. Some teams gave up an awful lot to make a cup run for rental players. Perfect example Lehner although we didn’t give up a whole bunch there are still ramifications of what we lost to what we got in return. The Knights are on the very low end of that spectrum this season.

    • That was initially a major concern of mine as well but it appears the NHLPA has already pretty much put that flame out. The players have agreed to extend if need be from what I understand.

      • Stephen

        Is that correct? I haven’t heard that, but if it’s true, then thank god! We could have Lehner & Fleury for a whole season then if the NHL were to simply restart with the 2020-21 season.

  4. Hockey now

    friggin negative nancies, not real hockey fans.

    for cripe sake, act like Hockey fans, not like defeatist sheep.

    there WILL be NHL playoffs THIS season, and it will begin probably on or about June 1.

    will it have to be in North Dakota and Buffalo? Maybe, and possibly with no fans in the building. Deal with it.

    So what. There will be NHL playoffs televised, and it will finish with the Stanley cup awarded in late Summer.

    and next season will be just like normal, with the start maybe about a week later than usual, in mid Oct

    They are already about to announce in just a few days the re-opening of the country in regionalized, step-by-step fashion, with the most of the country re-opening, except for the hotspots.

    enjoy the playoffs….I will

    • Buckeye63

      Ever been to North Dakota? Very few hotels there and those are Holiday Inn & Super 8 type hotels. No way they stage anything of that magnitude there. Buffalo is a different story, though.

    • vgk alberta

      Gary Bettman:
      NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday he believes the league is most likely to return to play during the summer months. “My guess at this point is we’re probably going to be playing into the summer,” Bettman told Fox Business Network, “which is something that we can certainly do.”

      ====================================

      that is the current update TODAY

      It looks like Hockey now nailed it, right on the money.

      • JR

        Explain exactly in detail how that scenario would unfold. And use today’s current status of no vaccine and how one won’t be ready for 12-18 months.

  5. Jim

    You’re dreaming. 700 hockey players in North Dakota??? Right.
    Reopening of the country. Okay Donald. That has very little to do with anything. Opening the country doesn’t cure or eliminate the virus.

    • A Fan

      It wouldn’t be 700 players in one North Dakota location, it would be 1/3 of that. They talked about playing in 2 US locations and 1 Canadian location. If there are not enough rooms in Grand Forks, (or nearby) Fargo is about 70 miles south of there via an Interstate highway.

      • Jim

        Just think about what you’re saying. Then think about what the real issue is in the first place and why nobody is playing any sport.
        NOBODY IS SUPPOSED TO BE GOING ANYWHERE.
        So we’re going to be transporting millionaire hockey players around on buses for 3 months all over he##. From one hotel to the next from one arena to the next….no chance of catching virus there.!!
        Just not happening.

        • A Fan

          I did think about what I was saying. The NHL hasn’t cancelled the season yet in case you hadn’t noticed. My comment was based on that it may proceed. It may not, but it may. Bettman made the comment today that sound will need to be pumped into the arenas because quiet and hockey don’t go well together. Sounds like he still has thoughts about playing games, but minus the fans. Since you have a crystal ball and are 100 percent it’s “just not happening,” do share with me what the next lotto numbers are, my luck hasn’t been very good of late.

          • Jim

            Doesn’t matter what Bettmans thoughts are.
            It comes down to what the players are willing to do. We’re not talking about cattle here. These are millionaire athletes sitting safe and sound in their mansions with their families. They’re not going out into the madness anytime soon.
            Pumping sound into an arena!!! Nobody is going to watch that crap let alone pay advertising money to show it.
            Only reason Bettman is canceling anything is because he doesn’t want to give all that advertising and tv money back…but he will.
            Have a good life.

  6. "DOC"

    Man it is SO HARD for me NOT to comment a big answer. But, I’ll just sit and “enjoy” all the opinions. Of course NONE of you, including me, know what the hell is going to happen. You all know me as an avid hockey & Knight fan. But right now my ONLY concern is getting past this virus, still alive!! Stay safe. DOC

  7. Todd Barrett

    Take the top teams in ther standings and then the next say 4 teams with pt’s close enough to make the playoff should you be able to complete the season. Have a best 2 out of 3 to decide the wild card spot and go start to playoff hockey. Not going to make everyone happy but it would at least be fair to those teams that truly had a chance. Everyone is starting fresh so I think it would be great hockey. It would also help with next season starting on time. As far as location I think you cab find locations that will work for all teams. Maybe one on each coast. Fans may no get to go and root there team on but tv ratings would be through the roof. Plus it gets us as a country back to some sense of normality.

  8. "DOC"

    Since there was no comment area, available, on Jason’s story today (4/15) on media availability to the players in future, I just wanted to say: Regardless of some of the players saying it’s ok and part of their job …. I would bet my monthly med prescriptions, that very very few like it! I say leave the media questions to the coach, GM etc….. I for one don’t need to hear the mostly “standard” answers the players give. The majority of the questions are just constantly repeated and some of these media guys are as dumb as rubber pucks in question asking anyway. Just leave the guys alone and let them play hockey!!!!!! DOC

  9. Summer hockey

    for the uninformed sheep. jim especially. HALF of that money (NHL revenue) belongs to the players, dummy. and the VAST MAJORITY of the players have already said that THEY WANT TO PLAY. so wake up and smell reality. THE PLAYERS are driving this desire to play this summer, and the NHLPA is in agreement with the owners on this.

    now you can go back to hiding under your bed.

    • Summer hockey

      UPDATE——-

      the NHL is negotiating NOW with Governor Sununu of New Hampshire to play games in that state.

      Confirmed by NHL NBC broadcasters Liam McHugh and Mike Tirico on video today.

      stay tuned, NHL hockey is on the way back.

      • Jim

        If you can, try to catch first flight back to planet earth.
        How’s that NH NHL plan going??

  10. Jim

    I knew all that Jethro.
    Doesn’t change anything. Didn’t say they didn’t want to play. Said they would not play in some Mickey mouse setup. Just like baseball players dont want to play in empty parks in Arizona.
    Take a peek around Bartholamew…
    Nobody caring about sports of any kind.

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