NHL Rumor Mill – March 14, 2020

by | Mar 14, 2020 | Rumors | 22 comments

The latest speculation on how the NHL’s schedule pause could affect the playoff schedule and the salary cap in today’s rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman examined some of the biggest questions facing the NHL after pausing its season over coronavirus concerns.

Noting how the NHL, NBA and Major League Soccer announced their temporary media guidelines this week at the same time, he believes they’re getting the same medical information and are in communication with each other. He suspects resumption of their respective seasons could also occur at the same time.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus report NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the board of governors on Thursday that canceling the regular season would cost the league a whopping $1 billion. The hope is to return to work on April 15, stage a one-week mini-training camp, finish out the regular season followed by a possible shortened playoff schedule that ends in July, though that might not be possible.

Aaron Portzline reports there’s a belief the NHL season is over for clubs with no chance of reaching the playoffs.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly expects a $1 billion revenue loss if the regular season is canceled. (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman notes NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the pause for his schedule was 30 days. I suspect the NHL and MLS will follow suit. Barring any improvement in containing and reducing the COVID-19 coronavirus, the earliest the NHL returns to action could be April 12, though that it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s later than that.

Unless the coronavirus is still raging through North America until June, I expect we’ll see some form of a shortened regular-season schedule, perhaps even just a “play-in” for the playoff bubble clubs, following by the first two rounds of the playoffs being best-of-five and the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final being best-of-seven.

Friedman reports the NHL could see a $1 billion hit to hockey-related revenue because of this schedule pause. That could result in the salary cap dropping below the current $81.5 million, potentially hurting teams and players. He feels that’s an incentive for the NHL and NHLPA to agree to an artificial cap number for next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance points out the financial impact of this schedule pause will affect each team differently. The NHL is more reliant on gate-driven revenue than the other major professional leagues. The average NHL clubs earns $1.7 million per game, with higher-revenue clubs earning twice that. A popular NHL club like the Toronto Maple Leafs won’t feel the effects of this pause as much as a struggling franchise like the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman reminded us the NHL and NHLPA agreed to an artificial salary-cap number for 2013-14 after a lockout cost half of the previous season. I daresay they’ll do the same to ensure next season’s cap at least remains at $81.5 million. There’s also talk of employing amnesty buyouts, but that probably won’t be necessary under an artificial cap that’s at or slightly above the current level.



  1. The first two rounds should always be best of 5.

    • Agreed. It used to be, but expanding them to best-of-seven meant more money for the team owners.

      • Formulas to recoup lost revenue have been around for a long time. I can remember the old QSHL holding best of nine and even best of eleven playoffs and the WHL holding best of nines as recently as the 1980s


      • Hockey should realize less is more. I’d love a regular season that was a home and home in division and one game vs the rest of the league alternating home games every year.

        The nfl has must watch games throughout the year. Compared to baseball which has meaningless games most of the year.

        I would love nhl to trend toward nfl as opposed to mlb

      • CHRISM the only real comparison is the NBA, same number of games, some play in the same arena and same playoff formula.

        The wont change the number of games played because they need the gate revenue, the won’t change the point system because it creates false parity and keeps teams in the playoff hunt longer and more bums in the seats, given teams more gate revenue.

        Personally I want the playoffs to be over by the end of May. No hockey in June.

        Play on back to back nights when the games are in the same city.

        The first round best of 5 but wont because of the gate revenue.

        If hockey had mad following like the NFL.

        Hockey is a cold weather sport that folks in the warm weather states won’t take to like they do with Basketball and Football.

      • All fair points caper. I was basically just fantasizing.

      • I can’t see them reducing playoff games. Those games are (almost) all profit for the owners. I can see them ending the regular season short than shorten playoffs, just from a profitability point of view. The most favorable outlook is full regular schedule and playoffs so I’ll be hoping for that.

    • I agree with the best of 5 in the first two rounds of playoffs. I don’t agree with the concept of only playing one regular season cross conference game per year. If you are a season ticket holder, which is a large financial commitment, you want to see every team, and all of the best players in the word, at least once per season.

      I would be OK with reducing the in conference out of division games to a home and away. It would be a 72 games per year instead of 82.

      That’s a lot of lost revenue and the owners wouldn’t be the only ones affected. Not likely to happen but interesting conversation.

  2. Won’t be long now, fellas.
    Annnnnnnytime now.

  3. I don’t go to many games. I like the tv for hockey a lot and hate crowds. And narrow seats that scrunch my 🥜. But I also miss them. Here is a little bit of a live hockey game to tide you over


  4. First off, Thanks Lyle for keeping this site going! Even a little bit of news, rumors or speculation is much appreciated. Second, if they do resume 4/15, do they play out the season which would be most equitable but probably unrealistic or do they have some hybrid, wherein you will have numerous teams screaming about how it is unfair to them (playoff positioning, draft, contract bonuses, etc.)? Best to be safe and healthy, but I forsee many unhappy people even when it resumes (when we should be happy).

  5. Its very rare that teams trade after the trade deadline. I’ve been wondering if the suspension of games will have any impact on the norm.

  6. Why haven’t there been more RFA goalies signed to offer sheets? It seems like the ideal position for an offer sheet. Teams do not typically do well drafting goalies. They usually take several years to develop. A goalies average salary does not require as much RFA compensation as other positions. By the time goalies are an RFA its much easier for teams to project a goalies future in the NHL.

  7. IMO I just can’t see anything starting up in April or even May. They haven’t even really starting testing in America yet and when they do the numbers will go up much higher than what they are now.
    All that being said, I’m like most others who are going through serious hockey withdrawal at a time when hockey was just getting very interesting.

  8. All teams who have earned 100 pts or more, should be involved in a playoff for the cup.😉

  9. How about a fun way to shake up the playoffs AND the draft lottery that would never happen because it’s a terrible idea? Anyone else on board? OK, here goes:

    Every team is in the playoffs. 1st place in the NHL gets a first round bye. 2 plays 31, 3 plays 30, 4 plays 29, etc. etc. 1 game knock-out round.

    Round 2 goes best of 3, round 3 goes best of 5, round 4 and up is best of 7.

    Now here’s the even worse part 😀

    The draft lottery is based off of the losers in the playoff rounds. So, if 31st place Detroit beats 2nd place team, Detroit is out of the running for the lottery pick, while the 2nd place team gets the highest chance of winning the lottery because they lost to the lowest team.

    Alright, I’ll just go over here and open the lid to the garbage can while you guys process that….

    • Sounds like a fun tournament.

  10. The players need a 1 week mini camp? C’mon drop the puck and start playing. Top 3 teams only make the play-offs in each division, no wild cards, sorry don’t like it, go blame the virus. Round 1, the three division teams play a home & away round robin tournament (max 4 games each team, 2 each at home, 2 away). Top 2 from the mini-tournament advance to a best of five conference final. Winners of the conference finals advance to the best of seven Stanley Cup final. This can’t be allowed to go past June 15, much earlier would be even better.

  11. They should put the cap at where it is and allow one cap buyout per team prior to 30 June. Also, rate all teams I conference by rate of win. Teams 1-7 goes in while teams 8 and 9 plays a play in over 3 games. No more regular season games, start playoffs straight away

  12. Okay, it’s about time to ask the question! Why the hysterical questions about the “dangerous” VIRUS? As of today, 48 people have died (in the USA…of the disease.
    If you do the math, and explore the details…most of the deaths are attributed to elderly, already compromised, individuals.
    We have more people dying from drug / and alcohol abuse EVERY DAY!
    Why is this a catastrophic event?

    • It’s the dry run.

  13. Don’t play 82. Try to balance the games out around 76 and use that as the tuneup . Saves 2 weeks . Has to end by the end of June . Push the draft to July