The season has hit more than a minor speed bump.
The National Hockey League wants to get its 2020-2021 season underway on January 13th. The owners and players have a deal to play and while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the United States and Canada, games will be played because TV and marketing partners are committed to paying for product. There also might be customers in the stands at some NHL United States arenas. But things are not looking good right now for the hockey industry. Scientists are trying to figure out why youth hockey players have been infected with COVID-19 and whether ice rinks are breeding grounds for the virus. In Canada, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is attempting to stagger through the season. That league is shut down until January 21st and then the league is hoping to get going by placing its 12 Quebec teams into a four-city bubble with games starting on January 29th. The league is hoping its Atlantic Canada teams can play in home arenas starting January 21st. The Ontario Hockey League has put the season on hold indefinitely. The Province of Ontario is in a lockdown and three United States based OHL teams cannot get into Canada because of the shut down of the American-Canadian border. The OHL wanted to start up on February 4th. In Western Canada, the Western Hockey league is also on ice with no timetable to resume. The WHL also has American teams that would be impacted by the border closure.
The National Hockey League is hoping that it can get a seven team Canadian division going and have 24 American teams traveling through the United States playing and is able to have a season. The NHL was able to get through the 2020 season by putting up two bubbles, one in Edmonton and the other in Toronto. There is bad ice ahead.