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NHL gambles on getting through pandemic outside a bubble – Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada 2021-01-12 21:50:00 –

Patrick Semanski / AP

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will speak with media members on Thursday, December 12, 2019, before entering the US Hockey Hall of Fame in Washington. Like the NBA, the NHL is moving forward in a bubble-free season.

Gary Betman’s phone began to ring when the NHL charter flight returning from the Edmonton bubble landed in New Jersey.

The commissioner thought it would take weeks to exhale after giving Tampa Bay Lightning the Stanley Cup. Instead, it went back to work.

Of course, plans for the 2021 season began well before late September. It took time to extend the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the unions for a long time, to layer health and safety protocols, to reorganize departments, and to convince multiple government agencies to play safely.

The season begins on Wednesday, and Betman estimates that the league will lose more than $ 1 billion in play. This is a gambling that everyone is happy to make to keep hockey in the middle of a pandemic.

“It would be cheaper not to close the door and play,” Betman said Monday. “We’re back in play this season because we think it’s important to the game and fans and players want us, so it’s where people, especially those who have returned in isolation and curfew. May give a sense to normality and something to do. “

None of the four major men’s professional sports leagues in North America are as dependent on attendance as the NHL. Approximately 50% of all revenue comes from ticket sales, concessions and other factors within the arena. As a result, leagues and players prioritized CBA extensions before completing last season with a twin playoff bubble. They knew that fans wouldn’t cut their income for anyone.

The agreement provided the NHL with a blueprint for running and working in peace until at least 2026.

NHLPA Executive Director Don Fer said, “What do you think the future will be, and how to maximize profits, minimize disadvantages, mitigate risks, take advantage of opportunities, and more. You always have to make a decision. ” Telephone interview. “Surely from a player’s point of view, I think the agreement last summer was fair, rational and appropriate, taking all of them into account, and I would never guess it again.”

Living according to the terms of the agreement now means short-term pain for the owner, and Betman may recently have to repay some money later on the basis of a 50/50 split of earnings. I warned that there was. But that was just part of the puzzle that put all these together. It started with when to start playing and how to start playing.

With the clock stopping in mid-December, the two teams agreed to open a training camp for most teams shortly after January 1st and drop the puck on January 13th. Each team will play all 56 division games during the upcoming regular season. By May 8th, the Dallas Stars outbreak and delayed launch have already raised the question of how to deal with different situations.

On the eve of the opening round, the league announced on Tuesday 17th of the 27 players that the coronavirus test was positive from December 30th to January. Eleven are in Dallas and the other ten are from the other eight teams.

There are no strict rules about how many positive test results endanger the game, and adding a taxi team of 4-6 players will mitigate the risk. Watching other leagues postpone matches and change schedules was as helpful as regular communication between medical professionals.

“It happened so quickly that we had the opportunity to learn a lot from each other because there was little science behind what was happening,” said Dr. Winne Meeuwisse, Chief Medical Officer of the NHL. .. “From infection control to testing strategies, how we interpret test results, how to respond to positives, and how to manage cases are all shared anonymously so that we can improve what we do and do our best. It’s a job that keeps players and everyone around the game safe. “

Players are tested daily and all arenas except the Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyote, and Stars will lose fans as the season progresses. The league has reorganized its team to include all Canadian divisions to avoid cross-border hassles. Team sports are banned in Santa Clara County, California, leaving questions about where San Jose Sharks plays home games.

Despite the unexpected problems, officials who have been optimistic about reaching this point through negotiations are confident that the NHL will be able to reach the finish line again.

“We’ve seen what’s happening in other sports, and they’ve had their problems and were able to overcome it, and we’re convinced we can do it. I’m doing it, “Fail said.

Betman agreed that there was a bump along the way, and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daily does not expect widespread vaccination of players to alleviate concerns before the end of the season. Like the bubble, the NHL is looking forward to a bright day and a complete arena to survive this season.

“Our aim to survive the season is to have a great season on the ice, a great playoffs, the Stanley Cup and the return of the 21-22 season world to normal,” Betman said. .. “More than that would be great.”

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