By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge
It almost doesn’t seem real that the global pandemic started almost nine months ago. It seems like forever ago that the NHL season was put on pause to accommodate for the rise in COVID-19 cases in mid-March. The National Hockey League did a fantastic job putting together a return to play plan to not only finish their 2019-2020 season but keep all the player and staff healthy. What is happening now then?
It is over a week into December and there is still no official announcement to play the 2020-2021 NHL season. However, there are some rumblings around the media that a deal was made, and a 56-game season will begin on January 13th, 2021. The NHL and NHLPA were going back and forth about financials. This felt just like a lockout without calling it one. The NHL obviously wants the season to be played but wants the players to take massive pay cuts so they can profit, and the NHLPA wants to play the season but wants the league to take the pay-cuts, not themselves.
The #NHL and #NHLPA are moving forward with their working agreement from July as they work towards a mid-January start for the 2020-21 season, according to @DarrenDreger: https://t.co/2JPRUFCaST#TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/QIISOlvQUT— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) December 8, 2020
There is also the challenge of what to do with the games. Where will they be played? Logistically speaking, you can do another couple of bubbles to keep everyone safe, but the reality is the NHLPA won’t agree to that as they don’t want to spend five plus months away from their families. The reality of the matter is that if the MLB, NBA, and NFL can do their seasons without a bubble, so can the NHL.
How does all of this affect the Boston Bruins? Every NHL team is affected by this pandemic in unique ways, so let’s take a look at how this affects the Black N’ Gold. Starting with the young players, some prospects don’t have a place to play right now to continue their development. Players such as Marchand and Bergeron will be just fine with extended time off as they have already developed, per say. However, prospects such as Jack Studnicka should be seeing as much ice time as possible to continue improving. One name that comes to mind is talented center Curtis Hall who has been lighting it up at Yale University the past couple seasons. Yale has cancelled their season, so he is looking for a place to play.
With the unfortunate appearance of the pandemic this year, the NHL salary cap remained the same. It was supposed to increase but with the pandemic costing the league a lot of money, it remained the same. This plagued the Bruins as they had to resign some key free agents such. The headline of the Boston Bruins offseason was losing Torey Krug in free agency to the St. Louis Blues. If the salary cap increased as it was scheduled to do so, would Krug still be in the spoked B? The world may never know.
Fast forward to next offseason. The league as a whole and the Boston Bruins obviously lost a lot of money due to the pandemic as most businesses did. I highlighted the key free agents in my 2021 offseason article, but a lot could change between now and then. The Bruins may have to move on from some important players and make some difficult organizational decisions.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone. These have been troubling times for everyone in the world and all we can say is hopefully we are nearing the end of it. Although not official, it looks like NHL hockey will be returning soon. Gear up Bruins fans, we have some hockey to watch soon.