Hextall on Hockey: The Stanley Cup has been won. Now what?

Tampa Bay Lightning's Ondrej Palat (18) hoists the Stanley Cup after defeating the Dallas Stars in Edmonton on Monday, September 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

As the Stanley Cup was lifted last night, the thought crossed my mind … when will we see hockey again?

Kudos to the NHL for its version of bubble hockey which sustained a COVID-free zone for multiple months.

But as for next season, the bubble has burst and the NHL is set to figure out a new plan to play safe.

Commissioner Gary Bettman has already stated the original start date of Dec. 1 for the 2020-2021 campaign is likely to be delayed until the New Year.

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The main reason is so the NHL can determine if some fans can return to the stands. This is paramount, considering the league and teams rely on ticket sales as a key source of revenue.

And let’s be real here — the NHL and its 31 teams have all taken a major hit financially. Fans need to be part of the equation when the puck drops on next season to make it viable.

And if that’s not a big enough challenge in pandemic times … there’s the issue of the Canada/US border: when will it open? What quarantine rules will be in place?

Once again, the NHL is facing many of the same issues it had prior to the return to play for the now complete Stanley Cup playoffs.

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So, when will we see hockey again? Three months, six months … maybe more?

Are we back where we started with the virus in control?

I choose to be hopeful and believe hockey won’t be halted — that we’ll experience the offseason and ring in 2021 with prosecco and a puck drop.

Click to play video: 'Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18’s fly over Edmonton for Stanley Cup final'
Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18’s fly over Edmonton for Stanley Cup final

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