For fans of American sports, this year has been one of the most trying in memory. With many of the leagues postponed and then resumed to finish offseasons, we are staring at the unknown. The 2020-21 season is expected to start-up soon for major sports including the NBA, NFL, and NHL. However, with many of the restarted seasons only a few weeks after finishing, is it fair to expect the talent on the teams to get back to competing quite so soon?
In some sports, such as basketball, concerns over Olympic clashes is being used as a factor to push for an early start. With the NBA aiming for a 22nd December 2020 start-up date, NHL fans are wondering when the teams will be back on the ice ready to kick ass and score goals. However, there is an almost deafly silence hanging over the NHL 2020-21 season. Speak to insiders and reporters, and the date seems to change with every conversation.
For now, we have no idea when a new season is going to begin. It might be some time until we get any proper discussion about the next start-up. Many experts, including Tony Kornheiser, say they “don’t know” if there is a schedule in place to handle a restart. That might concern some fans, as other sports will be coming back to TV shortly.
The last season finished on the 28th September, when the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup. The problem for NHL, then, is that it finished before the NBA…yet looks likely to come back after?
How does that work?
Confusion and uncertainty.
The NHL seems to be the only major sport that isn’t already asking what happens next. Keep in mind that teams who never made the playoffs have essentially spent 2020 doing nothing except paying wages and watching their income dwindle. And with the way that US sports work in terms of trades and moves, many players, coaches, and GMs will be wondering when they can get around to the all-important manner of building teams to compete in 2020-21.
But with no idea of when that season will even start, it appears that many teams are being asked to be patient. Some believe that a target date for the NHL to start in January has been set, with a 1st January discussion being suggested in some quarters. Others, though, say that is too ambitious and is unlikely to be prepared in time.
Teams need the time to manage their signings, seasons, and their staff. It is going to take a lot of time to get things in place, and then allow time for an adequate pre-season for everyone. As it stands, then, we could be seeing teams start their voluntary workouts soon – but without a clear start date, it might be months until we get to see some proper NHL being played again.
And for hockey fans, the wait between seasons is going to feel especially long this year.