The NHL may have to get creative with its scheduling of the 2020-21 season, and according to a report from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, outdoor games may be an option next year.
Reports surfaced Friday morning that the NHL is now targeting a Jan. 15 start date and the first two weeks of they year will be used for training camps.
Following a Nov. 12 Board of Governors meeting, the NHL reached out to all 31 teams to gauge their interest in potentially playing outdoor games to begin the 2021 season. Teams such as the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins informed the league they are open to hosting not just one but several outdoor games to start 2020-21, which would ease some concerns regarding COVID-19.
According to LeBrun, the Nashville Predators are also intrigued with the possibility of potentially hosting one or more outdoor games in 2021.
“The Predators responded to the league that they would be willing to host an outdoor game if it made sense for the NHL,” he said. “And In fact, would be willing to have multiple games and teams play out of it whether that’s in a traditional stadium or a unique setting.”
Switching gears and moving games from indoors to outside would open the possibility to better socially distance fans and allow a larger number of people to attend games and generate more revenue that teams wouldn’t have normally had.
For comparison sake, the Tennessee Titans rank seventh in the NFL in attendance this year, averaging 11,348 fans in five games at Nissan Stadium — about 16.4 percent of the stadium’s capacity.
Only 18 NFL teams have allowed fans to attend games this year; seven of those markets also have a hockey team. Of the 14 NFL teams to not allow fans this year, 11 of those markets also have hockey clubs.
Per LeBrun, the Bruins are considering playing at Fenway Park, the Dallas Stars are open to playing at AT&T Stadium and the Kings play just 16 minutes away from the LA Galaxy’s stadium and are open to playing a few games there.
Teams that nixed the idea of playing outside include the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and New York Islanders.
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