Now that the draft is over, the St. Louis Blues turn their attention to the upcoming season. They might be waiting for 2021 for that to happen.
The St. Louis Blues draft is done. Though free agency still looms over them, they at least have a tentative date for the start of the next season.
If the NHL’s plans come to fruition, we might not be able to refer to this upcoming season as the 2020-21 season. That’s because the NHL hopes to have their first game, or games, on January 1.
That date is not set in stone, but rather a marker that the NHL hopes to achieve. They are allowing themselves wiggle room to change it depending on the situation with the pandemic.
The league’s commissioner announced the NHL’s attention just prior to the first round of the NHL Draft on NBCSN and Canadian television. The funny thing was it was almost mentioned in passing since the event was the main focus.
“I think it’s fairly clear that while Dec. 1 has always been a notional date, we’re focused on the fact that we’re really looking now at Jan. 1 to start the season up,” said Bettman in his opening statement. “Our hope is to have a full season, full regular season, and to have fans in the building, but there are a lot of things that have to transpire, many of which – if not most of which – are beyond our control before we can finalize our plans.”
From a Blues perspective, hoping to start on January 1 is somewhat interesting. Despite the fact this might just be the first game night of the season, it also makes one wonder if the league still hopes to have the 2021 Winter Classic.
This would affect the Blues because they are scheduled to face the Minnesota Wild at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota on January 1. Beyond just the start date of the league, the national and local regulations will have a gigantic impact on whether this occurs.
While the league has given no indication of its plans, I find it extremely hard to believe they would give up on a cash cow like the Winter Classic if fans can attend. However, if this was to be an empty stadium event, it would get axed faster than you can snap your fingers.
Winter Classics are expensive from a logistics point of view. If you don’t have that massive gate revenue, there is no purpose to it. The only reason to continue having a Winter Classic in the pandemic would be if NBC demands their television contract be upheld.
For now, it is enough to at least have an idea of when the league’s season might resume. Details are scarce, but something is better than nothing.