The NHL views it as an “important objective” to restore a normal cadence for the 2021-22 season, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN in an interview on Thursday.
But first, the league must figure out what the 2020-21 season looks like — and despite targeting Jan. 1 as a start date, the league is exercising patience before making any firm plans.
“We’re still taking the time we have to drill down and get to what we consider our best strategy to be,” Daly said. “I know the world and the media would like a little more certainty. I wish I could provide it. I’d like a little more certainty. But we don’t have it.”
Daly said that the seven teams that did not qualify for the 2020 postseason will likely get additional training camp time — helpful since they haven’t been on the ice together since March.
“It hasn’t been finalized yet, but we’ve had significant discussion with the players association on that,” Daly said. ” And I think we have a general understanding that those seven clubs will have additional training camp time in advance of the ’20-21 season.”
Daly also shot down the widely speculated notion that the Stanley Cup must be awarded before the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which was assumed given the NHL and Olympics share a U.S. broadcast partner in NBC.
“I think there is some flexibility if we were to choose that route,” Daly said. “There’s a lot left to be played out on the Olympics front, too. So I would just throw that in — we clearly have models that extend past the Olympic time period. Those are alternatives that are on the table. I can’t tell you they’re the ones that are necessarily going to be pursued, but I think there’s some flexibility there.”
The NHL is modeling several options for next season, though a lot has been complicated by the U.S. and Canada border remaining closed for non-essential business.
“Obviously, it factors into how we have to plan for the 2020-21 season,” Daly said. “And it will factor in. If it remains exceedingly difficult to travel teams to and from Canada, as I think we’ve been very clear, one possibility is to create competition within the league among the Canadian clubs.”