Gary Bettman (The Canadian Press)

Gary Bettman (The Canadian Press)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says no plans to cancel rest of season

The league is looking at plans to centralize groups of teams in low-risk centres,

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says he has no plans to cancel the remainder of the NHL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bettman spoke Tuesday at a virtual town hall hosted by the San Jose Sharks for members of their business alliance.

According to The Mercury News, Bettman responded to a question on the state of the season by saying ending it early was “not something I’m even contemplating.”

“I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done,” Bettman said, adding that cancelling is “too easy a solution.”

“States are reopening, cities are reopening,” Bettman said. “And if we do the right things, I think we’ll be able to finish the season.”

The NHL suspended the season on March 12 with 189 games left in the season due to the novel coronavirus.

ALSO READ: Mixed feelings around hockey about holding NHL draft early

The league is looking at plans to centralize groups of teams in low-risk centres, with games being held in empty arenas, in hopes of resuming the 2019-20 campaign this summer.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said he has been in touch with Bettman about the possibility of Edmonton acting as one of these “hub cities,” and Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said he has talked to the NHL commissioner about playing games out of Toronto.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan, meanwhile, talked with Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly late Tuesday. He said he could see Vancouver being a potential hub city and also floated the possibility of other B.C. rinks hosting more games if the league wanted to centralize in one province.

“The sky’s really the limit,” Horgan said Wednesday. “I wanted the let the commissioner know that British Columbia stands ready to assist in looking at a plan brought forward by the players and the NHL. If we can make it work, I think it would be great for B.C. and great for the NHL.”

The NHL did not award the Stanley Cup in 1919 during the Spanish Flu epidemic, and in 2005 because of a lockout.

The Canadian Press

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