Recent AHL news could indicate when the next NHL season will start
As we’re still waiting to know when the next National Hockey League (NHL) season will start, news from the American Hockey League (AHL), the NHL’s minors, may have given us a hint.
The AHL announced on Oct. 28 that it was pushing back its anticipated 2020–21 starting date to Feb. 5, 2021. With the AHL and NHL normally starting and finishing their seasons around the same dates, this may be indicative of when the next NHL season will start.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has repeated constantly since the end of the 2019–20 playoffs that the goal would be to play a full 82-game season, with playoffs following as usual. However, there hasn’t been any clear details so far about when or how this would happen, or even why the league has been insisting so much on playing a full season.
Considering that without COVID-19,, the NHL’s 2020–21 calendar would have started in early October, it’s hard to see the same number of games being played in four fewer months. Of course, that’s if the league doesn’t plan to declare its Stanley Cup champions in the fall once again, in hopes of finally returning to their regularly scheduled seasons.
Especially if played without fans, a shortened season might be considered by the league in order to not lose too much income, which is in part used to pay the players. As the NHL isn’t in danger of bankruptcy, the best thing would surely be to focus on the most reasonable and safest hockey calendar for all, in a way that doesn’t bring us to the same dilemma next fall, which is: are we going to play a full season in 2021–22?
Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion