NHL is considering a shortened season and using hub cities


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The hub cities wouldn't be the same as the bubble system the NHL used for the 2020-21 campaign. One big difference is that the hubs would be a place teams would stay at for short stints. "You'll play for 10 to 12 days," Bettman said in relation to the hub idea. "You'll play a bunch of games without traveling. You'll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We'll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need. It's not going to be quite as effective as a bubble, but we think we can, if we go this route, minimize the risks to the extent practical and sensible. And so that's one of the things that we're talking about." That might make things more palatable for the players. As previously reported, a player poll taken by The Athletic found that while 61.8% of players would be willing to spend part of the season in a bubble, only 5.8% were open to spending the full campaign in a bubble. Bettman's current proposal sounds like a potential compromise that balances safety and the players needs better. All this is still just an idea though. No plans have been finalized and what regulations are put in place by the Canadian/American governments will of course be factors. For example, the Canadian border is still closed and some States have limited travel to other States, so how that situation evolves will have an impact on the NHL's plans. The NHL is tentatively looking to start the campaign on Jan. 1. As for the idea of a shortened season, that's not a definitive thing either, but the fact that the NHL is now considering it is noteworthy. TV ratings were down for the 2020 playoffs and Bettman noted that one factor for that was casual fans being less inclined to watch hockey in the summer months. Pushing the NHL back to a point where the playoffs end before July is a goal and a shortened season would make it more viable to have the 2021-22 campaign operate under a normal timetable.

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