Kukla's Korner

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Morning Line- Kurt Leavins

I am often a harsh critic of how the NHL conducts its business. But the league set the professional gold standard in 2019-20 for how a return to play should go. I believe that they deserve all the credit in the world for pulling it off the way that they did, superior to any other pro sport. Yes, it is important to have a target date and to eventually play a 2020-21 season. And yes, if you can just get started, there’s more flexibility to fit a 60-70 game season in around whatever COVID throws at you. And it is also a smart business tactic to keep your product in front of your broader fan base. Your core will stay with you, no matter what. But your P2’s and P3’s are more likely to flirt with other distractions. You can’t just expect them to stick around.

However, far more important than all of that is the long-term health of the NHL brand. A safe and effective COVID vaccine is not expected to be widely available until Spring at the earliest. Meanwhile, COVID is just hammering jurisdictions across North America. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are skyrocketing in many sectors. This wave projects to be way worse than the first. The risks have literally never been higher. As such, this is not the correct climate in which to rush back to the rink. Not only are you taking a serious chance from a health standpoint, it could also come off as particularly tone deaf to a suffering public.

Instead, I expect the NHL to be very cautious. My own prediction is for a start no sooner than February, and probably with a 40-50 game schedule. Look: Why would Gary Bettman do anything to risk his league’s reputation or to even perhaps sully his own legacy, which has arguably never looked better. He wouldn’t.

In this COVID pandemic, short-term thinking could quickly lurch to long-term pain. No, the NHL should take it’s time and do this right, like it did in Summer. Because at this moment, you don’t control this public health crisis. It controls you. Don’t pretend otherwise.

Until that changes, Gary, don’t risk undoing all that you have done so well.

-Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink


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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com