2020 Olympics Postponed Until 2021, Is Stanley Cup Next?
Due to COVID19, the Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been postponed until 2021. The who, what, where, why, and how still need to be figured out, abut this was ultimately a decision which needed to be made for the safety of the athletes and the world population.
The postponement of these games may seem premature, but in the end, it may be necessary because no one can be quite sure who will and who will not still be affected by this disease. With that in mind, the IOC is going to take a month to review plans over the next month to reschedule these games.
When we have a quadrennial event being postponed, we really have to wonder what is next.
The sport likely most in danger is hockey. With arenas and ice rinks being closed, there is no avenue for players to get out there and skate. With the warmer weather, there really isn’t an avenue for players to create rinks in their backyards. Couple that with players not having access to gyms or other athletic training facilities, there is just no way for players to stay in hockey shape.
Remember that at this time, there is no way for the ice surfaces to be maintained because those workers are not there. Also, as astutely noted by Abbey Mastracco of nj.com, players may have an issue with playing on the ice in July. With the heat outside, it is going to be difficult to maintain those ice surfaces, and that is before you consider those surfaces have not been maintained for months.
With each passing day that players can’t work out and there is no maintenance of the ice across 31 NHL arenas, we should be slowly coming to the realization there may be no Stanley Cup awarded this season. Of course, the NHL could instead opt to postpone the season indefinitely and revisit the remainder of the season and/or the Stanley Cup playoffs after the summer.
Looking at the situation, the NHL could realize playing through July or August isn’t ideal even in the best of circumstances. Under the current circumstances, there are players who need to get into shape as arenas are getting ice surfaces into shape. Fact is, everyone is going to need time to regroup.
Ultimately, the question for the league and the players may be whether it is better to start in September and have some form of a playoff and to delay the start of the 2020-2021 season and/or truncate it, or whether it is better to just face the reality, cancel the rest of the season, and start anew in October.
This is far from an easy decision, especially when the next expansion draft is going to occur in June 2021. The NHL needs to decide free agency, service time, and qualifications for that draft. Mostly, they need to figure out a way to handle the 2019-2020 season in a manner that best protects its players and its fans. Once they do that, everything else will flow from there.
Ultimately, everyone wants to see the 2020 Stanley Cup awarded even if no one knows if it can realistically be done.