Amid Uncertainty, Bettman Still Hopes for 82-Game Season in ’20-21


When the NHL announced its return-to-play protocols back in July, there was no shortage of skeptics who were convinced the league’s pie-in-the-sky aspirations that would come crashing down. But now all that stands between the league pulling this off without a hitch are a minimum of four more games and a maximum of seven.

So if you’re going to scoff at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s stated intention to play a full 82-game season and playoff in 2020-21, do so at your own peril. This is a league that often messes things up, but the way it has handled the pandemic while maintaining the integrity of the Stanley Cup tournament has been nothing short of remarkable. As Bettman pointed out, nobody is doing a victory lap yet, but including exhibition games, the league has put on 136 games in two venues over the past 53 days. It has conducted more than 31,000 tests without a single positive. And it has met the needs of more than 1,200 people from the 24 participating teams in the bubbles.