Fans have been waiting for news on next season for the Nashville Predators. It appears that there could possibly be a start date of January 13.
There hasn’t been a lot of good news regarding the NHL’s plan to start the 2020-21 season, much to the chagrin of Nashville Predators fans everywhere.
The clock is ticking on getting a complex plan for next season agreed upon. With the Summer Olympics coming in July, the NHL is really up against a wall to get things rolling soon.
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A Bleak Outlook for 2020-21
Initially, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that he wanted to start the season on December 1. As time passed, the realization set in that this was a pipe dream.
The next date was New Year’s Day, giving fans hope that we would finally see some professional hockey.
As recent as last week, the loss of the season looked to be a reality. It wouldn’t be possible for the NHL to get this season off the ground in that short amount of time.
The main issue that has reared its ugly head in the past few weeks has been money. Big surprise, right?
During the Return To Play negotiations, the NHL and the NHLPA agreed upon a new Collective Bargaining Agreement designed to help team owners combat the financial losses associated with the pandemic.
The players agreed to defer a larger portion of their salaries to help curb losses. The CBA was ratified and approved.
Several weeks ago, the NHL and the owners asked the players to defer more of their salary than what they initially agreed upon. It even appeared that the NHL was willing to cancel the season due to the financial losses that the owners would face.
Bettman said that the NHL was not trying to renegotiate, but was trying to develop creative ways to help get the season off the ground in a more profitable fashion that would benefit everyone. The NHL and the NHLPA were at an impasse.
Good News Finally Arrives
On Monday, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the NHL and the NHLPA had moved on from the reported financial issues plaguing a start to the season.
It appears that the NHL and the players will agree to disagree and move forward with the season. A good move for all involved, considering the consequences a canceled season would bring upon the league.
Now that the financial issues are hopefully behind us, the league has many details to hammer out if January 13 is to become a reality.
One issue is the time needed for teams to conduct a proper training camp. Teams that weren’t included in last season’s playoffs will get a three-week camp while the other teams will receive two. Preseason games appear not to be part of the plan since the season will be shortened.
Even a team like the Nashville Predators will need a lot of work to get back into shape. They’ve only played five games, an exhibition game and a four games in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, since their March 10th win over the Montreal Canadiens.
The main issues now become where the teams will play and will the divisions be temporarily realigned.
Division realignment may be necessary due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and the fact that the U.S.-Canadian borders are still closed. Once realigned, teams will play more games divisionally, including an all-Canadian division.
Several options are being discussed as far as where the games will take place. A hybrid bubble situation is possible where teams would play in one arena for a week and then travel home for ten days.
Other options include playing in each team’s arena either with or without fans in limited capacities depending on local pandemic protocols. The possibility of playing games in outdoor arenas is on the table as well.
While this news is encouraging, everything hinges on the spike in COVID-19 cases. As TSN’s Pierre LeBrun brings up, the pandemic could move the date out further or cause the entire season to be canceled.
After years of up and down performances based on a finesse style of play, it will be refreshing to see the Predators rely on defense to win games. Fans are eager to see a new-look team.
Will the changes that have been made be enough to keep this team in the hunt for a Stanley Cup? Or will they languish in their re-aligned division and face wholesale changes once this shortened season is over?
Hopefully, the season will be able to safely take place so that we can get some answers to these questions and more.