Playoffs could go into fall if NHL can finish season: officials

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The possibility of a summer Stanley Cup remains an option as the NHL plays the waiting game with the coronavirus pandemic.

“They’re really determined to finalize this season. I’m not sure when that will be. It could be July or August,” Edmonton Oilers chairman Bob Nicholson said on a conference call on Tuesday.

“(NHL commissioner) Gary (Bettman) has a number of different formulas to us to play in that time period, and also starting next season in November, playing next season November into June, then getting back into the regular course.”

Bettman spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday, saying, “We’re exploring all options, but when we will have the opportunity to return depends on things we have absolutely no control over.”

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He added, “We haven’t ruled anything in. We haven’t ruled anything out.”

The NHL’s preference is to have the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and then have a full season and post-season for the 2020/21 season.

“Gary has talked a lot about starting next season beginning of November,” said Nicholson. “We could have this season and the playoffs up to November 1. When it’s safe for us to play, we’ll make a decision on what is the best method.”

“There’s a been a lot of speculation that we’re going to play in neutral sites like North Dakota and a variety of other places. The fact is, when you’re in the position that all of us are in, you have to be prepared to relaunch when the opportunity presents itself,” Bettman told Cooper.

Click to play video 'Parenting Playbook: Keeping kids in shape during self-isolation' Parenting Playbook: Keeping kids in shape during self-isolation
Parenting Playbook: Keeping kids in shape during self-isolation

Only twice in history has the Stanley Cup not been awarded after a season. In 1919, the final series between the Montreal Canadiens and Seattle Metropolitans was cancelled after five games because of the Spanish flu epidemic. The 2004-05 season was cancelled because of a labour dispute.

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The NHL has played shortened seasons twice since the Oilers joined the NHL in 1979/80. Work stoppages meant the 1995 and 2013 seasons were 48 games.

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Edmonton Oiler Colby Cave honoured in Saskatchewan hometown

This summer’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup could wind up being scrapped because of the pandemic. Edmonton and Red Deer are slated to host the tournament from August 3-8.

“We’ve had discussions with Hockey Canada over the last week. I have another call with International Ice Hockey later this week. I think we’ll be making a decision on that within the next seven to ten days. Everyone would like to see the Hlinka Gretzky tournament happen, but in fairness I’d rather see the Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs in the month of August.”

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The Hlinka Gretzky Cup features the best under-18 players in the world.