NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is confident that the best way to finish out the season would be to complete the remaining regular-season games, but as the spread of COVID-19 continues, he’s not sure it’s going to be a viable option.
Bettman spoke to NBC Sports Network on Tuesday, just days after speaking with President Trump and several other major sports commissioners and top executives regarding the future of sports in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think right now there’s too much uncertainty,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll all know more by the end of April. From an NHL standpoint, we’re viewing all of our options. We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light… Nothing’s been ruled in, nothing’s been ruled out.”
Bettman, the league’s commissioner since 1993, seemed adamant that maintaining as much of a normal season as possible would be the “best” and “easiest thing” to do.
“The best thing and the easiest thing would be if at some point if we could complete the regular season and then go into the playoffs as we normally do,” he said. “We understand that that may not be possible and that’s why we are considering every conceivable alternative to deal with whatever the eventuality is.”
Bettman didn’t offer a timetable but he did say that he could see the season being played out into the summer.
“Ice won’t be a factor,” he said. “I do believe we can play well into the summer. The days of when games had to be postponed because there was no air conditioning in a building are long behind us…We can handle making ice now in any condition.”
Bettman echoed the sentiment of other sports leaders in that “people’s health and well-being and safety is the most important.”
“We understand what the number one priority is.”
The NHL suspended its season on March 12 with nearly 200 regular-season games remaining.