Pfizer vaccine gives hope NHL Jan 1 start can happen

There has been a lot of talk in hockey circles about when the NHL will start next season. As of right now, the league is holding firm to a January 1 date. This morning the talk will be all about what Gary Bettman said late yesterday.

Pfizer announces COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer recently announced a vaccine for COVID-19. This is great news and a game changer which will finally bring some relief to the world from this awful Pandemic. It’s also good news for the NHL who need to have fans in the stands for revenue.

nhl plans for next season
A vaccine for covid-19 is coming (FTHN Edit)

Question still remain on when the vaccine will be available and how effectively it can be mass produced. If the rollout takes time Bettman noted that the NHL will have to look at the potential to play in bubbles and realign.

Gary Bettman on NHL reduced schedule, bubbles, and realignment

When discussing travel between the borders, Bettman admitted there would need to be an all Canadian division. “It may be that we’re better off, particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating, keeping it geographically centric, more divisional based, and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues.”

nhl start date
Bettman on 2020-21 season (Sandford/Getty Images)

There’s also discussions on playing in bubbles, which we knew was a possibility and no player really wants to be away from their family. “You’ll play for 10 to 12 days,” Gary Bettman began. “You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need.”

The Commissioner admitted that the plan would not be as effective as it was during Return to Play. Still he feels it minimizes risk and is something the NHLPA would go for.

Insider’s scoop on NHL plans for next season

Elliotte Friedman broke down some of the other considerations and discussions inside the NHL’s offices.

  • A 56 or 72 game season being discussed
  • Stanley Cup playoffs to be complete by July 15 at the latest
  • Internal push to have games in the teams own buildings

A light at the end of the tunnel

The biggest takeaway hockey fans have is that there will be an NHL season. It also looks like we could see players in training camp as soon as next month for a January 1st start.

Most importantly, a vaccine to return us to normalcy. For fans to feel the electricity in the building and to hear the skates cutting into the ice. To wear their home team’s jersey and see their favorite players. To hear live the unique sounds of great goals and amazing saves.

I’m excited.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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