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NHL Owners Are Prepared For 48-Game Season

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

While GM’s across the league convened via Zoom, NHL owners continued to stew about lost revenue. Any time money is the main topic, fans should be worried.

They don’t have any idea at this point what the specifics are, other than they’re still hopeful for early January. There are some who are starting to think that’s a stretch for the start of the 2020-21 season. That will be the target Commissioner Bettman continues to be focused on. -Darren Dreger, TSN Vancouver

Speculation from numerous hockey reporters has suggested the NHL is working on either a 60-game or 48-game season. However, it’s a work in progress as the league and owners aren’t necessarily on the same page.

Commissioner Gary Bettman would love to see a 60-game series to maximize revenue and provide as much content to the league’s television partners. The owners on the other hand are extremely worried about generating income, especially if they can’t sell tickets to attending fans.

The owners are worried about the economics. Before the NHL drops puck on 2020-21, I’m pretty sure Commissioner Bettman is going to present ownership with two or three scenarios. Specific again to the dollars. ‘Here’s how much we’re going to lose if we don’t play, at all. Here’s how much we’re going to lose if we play without fans. Here’s how much we’re going to lose if we wait until we can plug a percentage of fans in the building.’.. What we know is, we’re going to have to deal with it in every sense for the foreseeable future.-Dreger, TSN Vancouver

With the operating costs of arenas and practice facilities on top of player salaries, it’s a serious concern for most NHL owners. If they can’t make a buck without fans in their buildings, owners prefer a shorter season to cut back on wasted expenses.

I keep hearing from ownership side that they’re a little more adamant about February 1st. There appears to be two sides of start dates, Jan. 1 and Feb. 1. Maybe by March 15th, we can put six thousand people in your building. The owners will be saying I’d rather have to wait six weeks for that rather than ten weeks. Why don’t we just push back a month. There are enough teams that are thinking that they would like to push back a month.-John Shannon, TSN Vancouver

Beyond agreeing on start date for the 2020-21 season, the league will be under pressure to wrap up and award the Stanley Cup by early to mid-July. In the United States, NBC has exclusive rights to the NHL and the Olympics. The latter is a real money-maker for the network. The NHL has essentially been told that when the Tokyo Olympics begin the league won’t have a network to air their games.

That’s the logical date because if it’s not over by then they have a real dilemma of where to play games in the United States on the network.-Shannon, TSN Vancouver

It really comes down to revenue. If the league can guarantee owners that at some point fans will be allowed in arenas, then decisions will be made swiftly. However, that’s a guarantee the Commissioner cannot make.

They were adamant that it had to happen, there had to be a season. Somehow, someway there has to be a season. Whether it’s the Canadian division, whether it’s two weeks in a bubble and then one week out of the bubble. -Shannon, TSN Vancouver

These issues won’t be resolved anytime soon, and until they do we’ll keep hearing depressing rumors about a shortened or suspended season. But let’s have faith, we’re talking about a league that successfully finished an entire postseason without one positive test.


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  1. Dry

    Do the owners have to pay the players when not playing? Do players get paid per game played?

  2. Tim

    Sounds pretty bleak Ken.

  3. Hockey now

    The NBA is starting their season on Dec 22. There is no earthly reason why the NHL cannot do likewise.

    There will be fans in the stands as soon as this election is over. the political games will stop, and normalcy will return.
    if the NHL owners want to hide in their basement, then they will deserve the financial bath they will have brought upon themselves.

  4. sb

    Doesn’t make sense to begin a season until fans are in the Stadium. We can’t expect Owners to pay out well over $100 million dollars per Team with next to zero income. It’s time to be fair to the individuals who go to great expense to put on this entertainment.

  5. Tim

    Who really knows when I go to the VA before you go in they run this wand across your forehead to see if you have a fever if not you go in with your mask on. It’s done in seconds why can’t they do that for fans coming in the arena? 6,00 thousand fans one third capacity spread out I would think wouldn’t be a problem. You’ll have families of 4 or more sitting together so you may even get more people in. I would assume thats what the Knights did before every practice.

  6. Vic

    Please take a survey Jason……Would you attend games in a full or nearly full T-Mobile arena with a mask and whatever basic sanitizing protocols are in place? This site would be a good barometer as to what fans will do. I go to church every Sunday, visit restaurants, and I would go to the VGK games. If this site polls badly, then the upcoming season is not in the cards without the owners get subsidies to avoid massive losses again. I apologize if some sort of poll has already been done.

  7. jason mason

    All of this uncertainty is exactly why I passed on my seat selection for the Silver Knights. I have friends with season tickets to the VGK, the Raiders and the HSK, and they were just recently let go by the long time employer. I’m guessing they’d like a few of those dollars back now.

    Get used to the new reality even if you wear a mask, because it’s not about whether you’re wearing it, it’s about everyone that isn’t.

  8. THE hockey GOD

    I have solution for them, they should do what the WWF/WWE is doing, fill a number of front row TV view seats with video monitors and ZOOM In fans who WILL PAY $300 and up, or more, to get their fat face on TV, pipe in sound.

    And then there will always be one ERIC CARTMAN who puts up a face pic of himself.

  9. At this point, who even knows that the Olympics will happen?

  10. Skeeter Thompson

    As a VGK season ticket holder, this is bad news.

    If the league doesn’t do bubbles or hubs and games are played in arenas with fans, a 48-game season means 24 home games. With Czar Sisolak in charge of setting crowd limits, let’s say they allow 25% capacity at T-Mobile for social distancing reasons. If the team rotates fairly so that each STM gets to attend one out of every four games (rather just letting people with $30,000 season tickets go to every game and screwing over folks in the upper level), that means each STM will get to go to 8 games next season. Eight! And that seems like a best-case-scenario at this point.

  11. B-Rad

    With eight teams per “division” (except the Canadian division), you could make two “hubs” for each division for a ten day period and play twelve games in each hub (4×3 double round robin-each team plays each other team twice). You would then set up another two “hubs” for the next round robin with a different group of teams. 1/3 of the fans would get to see their home team in the hub and you could fill in 1/3 capacity for fans to see games between other teams. On to the next hub.

    Playing in an out of conference hub, you get two games with every team and two hubs each within a conference and an extra one within a “division”. (3×12+3×7=36+21=57+24=81 games)

    Except in Canada. Those teams end up playing only each other for two 7×6 round robins. (7x6x2=84 games)

    Not ideal, but you would be able to control each hub for a ten day period and minimize the risk to the players and staff.

  12. DC

    There could be a major correction coming to bloated player salaries. No fans in the seats = no big revenues. No big revenues = no money to pay big contracts.

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