NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says no plans to cancel rest of season

WATCH ABOVE: Gary Bettman said a rule banning head contact at the NHL level would result in an end to all body checking.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says he has no plans to cancel the remainder of the NHL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bettman spoke Tuesday at a virtual town hall hosted by the San Jose Sharks for members of their business alliance.

According to The Mercury News, Bettman responded to a question on the state of the season by saying ending it early was “not something I’m even contemplating.”

“I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done,” Bettman said, adding, “I don’t want to sound Pollyanna, but canceling is too easy a solution.”

“States are reopening, cities are reopening,” Bettman said.

“And if we do the right things, I think we’ll be able to finish the season.”

The NHL suspended the season on March 12 with 189 games left in the season due to the novel coronavirus.

The league is looking at plans to centralize groups of teams in low-risk centres, with games being held in empty arenas, in hopes of resuming the 2019-20 campaign this summer.

Bettman didn’t provide a timeline or format for finishing the regular season and advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


READ MORE:
Virus expert says NHL return would require fast and frequent testing, no fans

According to The Mercury News, Bettman said if this season finished in August or September, a new season wouldn’t begin in October — but possibly later in the fall or early winter.

“You’re going to be a little flexible with the schedule, because we want to be able to bring the game back, both to conclude this season on some basis and to have a full regular season next year.

“If that means we need to be more flexible, then that’s what we’ll do.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said he has been in touch with Bettman about the possibility of Edmonton acting as a “hub city,” and Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said he has talked to the NHL commissioner about playing games out of Toronto.

READ MORE: Kenney’s talk with NHL commissioner did not include formal request to play in Alberta

British Columbia Premier John Horgan said last week he has offered the NHL a place to play if the league can find a way to resume the season.

“There are various factors at play here. First and foremost the safety of payers and the safety of the community where the NHL would operate,” Horgan said on Tuesday.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she will have to review and approve any plan from the NHL to operate in the province.


READ MORE:
B.C. well positioned to host games if NHL returns to complete the season: premier

The NHL did not award the Stanley Cup in 1919 during the Spanish Flu epidemic, and in 2005 because of a lockout.

— With files from Field Level Media and Richard Zussman, Global News

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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