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Weekend FTB: The NHL’s return to play plan might just save the CHL

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Or maybe the author couldn’t think of something else to write about

2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The NHL’s return to play plan might have inadvertently (or advertently) saved the CHL season.

Many CHL teams only stay afloat thanks to gate revenue in their communities, and with the current pandemic making attendance for sporting events impossible... they’re facing a real problem of how to prevent teams from going under. They never made any real money from broadcasting, because they had to compete with other major sports and the NHL playing at the same time. Only real die hard fans (or scouts) would choose to watch a local TV broadcast or online stream of a CHL game over an NHL game.

But with the CHL already having decided to cancel the 2019/20 season instead of coming back to finish it, and with the NHL looking to re-start their season and playoffs starting in July, there is a bigger opportunity that they haven’t had since the lockout years.

Credit to The O Show-OHL Podcast who mentioned this, but I wanted to share it as I assume most readers here don’t listen to it.

Let’s say the NHL succeeds in completing this season according to their plan. They’ll start in July and finish in another couple of months. Then they’ll have a bit of a condensed off-season to do their draft and free agency period, then return for the 2020/21 season late in the year or even in 2021 (it all depends on when they can actually return to playing games).

But the CHL won’t be on the same timeline. If the current NHL season ends in, say, September or October, that’s when the CHL is usually starting up their season. In that NHL’s off-season period, the CHL could plan start to play their new season not long after the Cup Finals are over. They would have no competition for hockey fans, and they might not have any competition for other major sports if the NBA and MLB finish their seasons around the same time too.

So, you’re TSN or Sportsnet, and suddenly there’s no sports again. Except... there’s the CHL. The last times there have been lockouts, they ran with CHL games then too. And prospects who get drafted won’t have an NHL training came to go to. That means they might still get top players like Alexis Lafrenierre, Quinton Byfield or Nicholas Robertson playing there instead of in the NHL. It would be like the year Sidney Crosby went crazy and the London Knights were stacked with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

Mind you, they still have some of the same issues the NHL has with having to restrict travel and the number of people at a venue. Could the CHL look to have hub cities too? I’m intrigued by the idea, but if there are obvious reasons why it wouldn’t work please tell me why I’m dumb in the comments!

Regardless of how they do it, being able to get main airtime from the big Canadian sports broadcasters would get the CHL some much-needed infusion of broadcast revenue they wouldn’t normally receive. It could help them stay afloat, or at least buy them more time.

No idea if it would work, but the idea DID help me fill this FTB when I had no other idea to write about something else.

ONTO THE LINKS

(Audio clip) Evander Kane on advocating against social injustice and the importance of hearing athletes’ voices | by Sportsnet

How do the Toronto Maple Leafs match up with the Columbus Blue Jackets in a best-of-five playoff series? | by ANthony Petrielli at MLHS

Colton Orr on Brian Burke, fighting, Phil Kessel and becoming an NWHL coach | by Jonas Siegel

News and Notes: Kyle Dubas talks about facing the Blue Jackets, whether this year’s Stanley Cup will have an asterisk, and more | by Cam Lewis at TLN

Zoom becomes a training tool for NHLers during pandemic | by Frank Seravalli at TSN

Huge if true!

Hire him, Dubas!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Poll

Do you think having the CHL season start during the NHL off-season for TV revenue would work?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Yes
    (44 votes)
  • 8%
    No
    (7 votes)
  • 13%
    Yes/No/Maybe
    (12 votes)
  • 27%
    All of the above
    (24 votes)
87 votes total Vote Now