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.

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

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