Nashville Predators: NHL Made Right Call for the 2021 Season

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Nashville Predators fans are rejoicing after the NHL announced that the 2020-21 season would start on January 13. Given the current state of the league, the NHL didn’t have a choice.

The months of wondering whether or not we would see the Nashville Predators take the ice are finally coming to an end. Over the weekend, the NHL announced that there would be a season, albeit a short one.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, including the things that generally take our minds off stressful situations, like sports.

The NHL did an excellent job with the Return To Play plan and the playoffs. They built up excitement for the game, even if it wasn’t the product we usually see.

Once the excitement of crowning a Stanley Cup Champion went away, the NHL was officially on the clock to start the new season.

First, the start date for the season continually moved. Then the news of the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend cancellation seemed to dash our hopes further.

As the zero hour approached, the NHL and the NHLPA came together and pulled out a holiday miracle, announcing that a deal had finally been reached.

Why This Decision Was So Important

The obvious reason is financial. The NHL may not be making as much as usual this season, but they will be making some. Also, canceling the season over economic issues is not a good look when there are people who are struggling to make ends meet.

All other major sports figured out ways to make sure their seasons happened. That is why fans were stunned when it was announced that the NHL and the players association were arguing about deferred pay and escrow, even going so far as to talk about canceling the entire season.

Even though fans may not be in the stands, at least for the beginning, this shortened season keeps the NHL’s product in the sports spotlight.

Since the NHL struggles for its share of the limelight with other major sports, an entire year without NHL hockey would cripple the sport that still reels from past lockouts.

To the casual fan who may not keep up with all of the NHL comings and goings, a canceled season could tip them over the edge and move them away from the sport entirely. Losing fans on any level is something that the NHL cannot afford.

Back On Track

This shortened season, possibly without fans, will keep the NHL viable for the time being while also keeping them on track for a normal 2021-22 season, which will feature the Seattle Kraken expansion team’s arrival.

Putting that season in jeopardy will not only affect the NHL, but it will also affect others such as team office staff, arena employees, and businesses surrounding the arenas who are struggling as we speak due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Many are dependent on the NHL teams in their cities. Everyone is feeling the effects of the lack of hockey and welcomes this news even if it may take a bit of time to reap the rewards.

Moving Forward

With everything considered, the NHL had no choice but to have a season. Had the NHL canceled the season, the league would have felt the effects for many years to come if they survived at all.

Hopefully, the league has learned a lesson during this exercise. Fans have no patience for billionaires and millionaires arguing over the loss of revenue. There are many other things that fans could spend their hard-earned money on, especially during the pandemic.

It seems that the NHL sometimes takes advantage of its fans and assumes that the league can survive anything. If this time off has taught them anything, they should realize that nothing could be further from the truth.

Without the fans, there is no league. This is true for every sport, and the NHL is no different.

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