NHL's Bettman: COVID-19 leaves end of season uncertain

Dave Uram
April 08, 2020 - 12:14 pm
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference before game one of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden.

Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Stanley Cup Playoffs were supposed to start Wednesday night, but like the rest of sports, professional hockey is playing the waiting game.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman echoes the sentiments of his fellow commissioners — Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB: Safety is the priority. 

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Bettman said he doesn't know when hockey fans are going to get the thrill of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's largely going to be determined, what we do, by how much time there is — because we have the new season to focus on as well — and the health of the country. And by 'the country,' I mean both Canada and the U.S., obviously," he said.

The NHL has no target date for when the season might resume.

"I think right now there's too much uncertainty," Bettman said on NBC Sports Tuesday afternoon. "Hopefully we'll all know more by the end of April."

Bettman also said everything is still on the table.

"We're reviewing all of our options. We want to be ready to go as soon as we get the green light," he said. 

For the first time since pausing, Bettman admitted finishing out the season right just not be possible.

"The best thing and the easiest thing would be if, at some point, we could complete the regular season and then go into the playoffs as we normally do. We understand that the may not be possible," he said.

And that's where it might get a little complicated. Some teams had more games left to play than others. Many squads were competing for the final playoff spots.

"Our clubs, if nothing, are extraordinarily competitive," Bettman said. "And whatever we do has to be fair."

Bettman said there’s no sense in speculating what comes next, because there's just too much unknown.

One thing Bettman was certain of, is the NHL’s modern arenas will make it possible to have playable ice during the hot summer months, if that’s what it comes to.