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Weekend FTB: Thinking about how the pandemic dominos will fall

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The NHL is close enough to returning that serious plans are being made, but what about other leagues?

Toronto Marlies beat the Cleveland Monsters on overtime in game two of their second round Calder Cup play-off series Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The big news this week is that the NHL seems to be having their first serious plan to return to hockey, likely in June at the earliest. It involves dividing teams into four groups (we can call them... divisions) and having them play all play in four cities for the rest the season and playoffs. They will pick areas that have a low amount of cases and good facilities, though they’re still working on finalizing each location.

I am excited at the idea of having these four locations each playing 2-3 games a day to make up the missed games. I just want to see my Toronto Maple Leafs boys light up the goal lamp again! Bring me Auston Matthews and William Nylander and Mitch Marner again!

They will play these games with no fans in the arenas, as we’ve long been told. It makes no sense for the league to even try to do so in any capacity until there is a vaccine for COVID-19 which will not be for a while. That will certainly hurt the NHL’s revenue, since many teams rely on gate revenue more than TV revenue, but it’s better than nothing.

But what about other leagues? What about the AHL, ECHL, and CHL leagues? What about the NCAA, or USHL? These leagues have teams that are independently owned, and not always by billionaires or corporations that can absorb losses every year. They rely almost entirely on gate revenue to stay afloat.

What happens to the NHL when there are almost no development leagues able to play because the leagues or teams can’t afford to continue operating? The NHL can’t really afford to pay for everyone to keep the status quo when they’re also financially hurting because of the pandemic. I wonder if we see some teams, if not outright leagues (ECHL) contract because of financial losses.

I have no idea what will happen at all. They might find a way to all keep playing in some capacity, by leaning hard into paid online streams to make up at least some of the revenue they’d lose. Maybe they can survive well enough until a vaccine is found. I’ll be very, very interested to see how this all evolves though, and how much of the landscape of hockey changes.

ONTO THE LINKS

NHL contingency planning for a resumption of the 2019-2020 season | by Katya

Speaking of...

Antropov finding ‘real joy’ in development role with Leafs | by Kristen Shilton at TSN

Dubas details first Maple Leafs trade, GM meeting: ‘I was scared’ | by Luke Fox at Sportsnet

TLN continues their series on top prospects outside the NHL, now at #6 with Egor Koshkov | by Jon Steitzer

AROUND THE HOCKEY WORLD

Inside NHL’s centralized sites process and the latest on a June draft | by Pierre LeBrun

You may not know NHL Seattle’s Alexandra Mandrycky, but those who know hockey do | by Ryan Clark at The Athletic

Turns out that Ben Hutton got Drew Doughty a stick autographed by Matthew Tkachuk as a secret santa gift and that is fucking hilarious | by Lisa Dillman at The Athletic

Connor Carrick has his own podcast and spoke to Jayna Hefford... who knew!