Despite the recent cancellation of the AHL season, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman remains steadfast in his belief that the league will award the Stanley Cup this season.
“We would like to bring a conclusion to this season,” Bettman said via The Mercury News. “It’s got to be fair, it’s got to have integrity, and if we have to do it over the summer on some modified basis, then we’ll do it on that basis.”
In a town hall conference with the San Jose Sharks, Bettman acknowledged the many steps that are going to be needed in order for it to happen, including starting next season late in order to accommodate this year. However, that remains the goal of the league as they hope to avoid repeating 1919 and 2005. The only two seasons in which the Cup was not awarded.
“I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done,” Bettman said. “I don’t want to sound Pollyanna, but canceling is too easy a solution. That means you stop working hard to do all of the things that we’re doing, and I ultimately believe that there will be an opportunity.”
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How that happens is still a mystery. Both from a “when” and “how” perspective. There have been plenty of ideas thrown about from an “NCAA-style” tournament to a series of host cities accomodating the entire league. It is likely this won’t be a traditional, four-round, seven-game series format as we have come to know. The degree of modification is wide-ranging.
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Major League Baseball owners have recently approved a plan that drastically changes the format of the season like slashing games in half and implementing a universal DH. Although at different stages of their respective seasons, MLB and the NHL, in addition to the NBA and NFL have been working collaboratively with team doctors and members of the medical community to ensure a safe return.
“All of the major leagues are talking to each other and our medical people are talking once a week,” said Bettman. “What I believe will happen is the leagues, our medical people and the (Centers for Disease Control) will come out with a baseline standard that would make sense for us to come back.”
We can only hope.