COVID-19 or coronavirus has impacted the way we live our lives. At this very moment, most of the world is shut down. People are staying at home. It’s time for quarantine. The global economy is going through a recession and sports has been impacted as well. All of the major leagues including the NHL, CHL (QMJHL, WHL, OHL), NBA, MLB, NCAA (American Collegiate Sports), U-Sports (Canadian Collegiate Sports), MLS, Premier League, SHL, Liiga, Ligue 1, La Liga, DEL and others have closed their doors. Games have been postponed and/or cancelled. With uncertainty about how long the virus will remain prevalent, it is hard for sports leagues to determine when seasons and/or playoffs might be restored.
With the NHL suspending play and no realistic timetable on when play might resume, the league is unaware of when the 2020 NHL Entry Draft will take place. The NHL Entry Draft was supposed to kick off on Friday, June 26th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. Fans were expecting to see Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield, Lucas Raymond, Alexander Holtz, Yaroslav Askarov, Marco Rossi and Jamie Drysdale throw on an NHL sweater and draft hat. Unfortunately, the draft time and format might be very different this year.
If the virus remains prevalent during the summer months, the 2020 regular season and playoffs will be in jeopardy. If the season and playoffs were to be cancelled, the draft would likely still happen at some point and teams might be drafting out of their own war rooms/conference rooms. The draft could still be televised, but the look and feel would be very different. Analysts like Bob McKenzie and Craig Button (And DobberPRospects!) will still be providing draft day content, but they might not be covering the draft from the floor of the Bell Centre. With robust collaboration/unified communications applications like Cisco Webex Teams, teams could theoretically announce their draft selections over video. Webex Teams and other unified communications applications have the ability to allow real-time communication for a wide audience. Webex Teams and its competitors offer features such as video, screen share and etcetera. With that being said, these applications can be utilized for events such as the NHL Draft. The Sportsnet, TSN and NBC Sportsnet teams could be on the line as well and broadcast the content to viewers all over the globe.
The alternative is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (United States) and the Public Health Agency of Canada find ways to slow down and/or halt the spread of the virus. If these two agencies along with their global partners are successful, the NHL season/playoffs could resume. The NHL might place attendance restrictions on arenas since there could be multiple waves of the virus and the league needs to ensure that it’s players, staff and media are out of harm’s way. If attendance restrictions were to be put in place, it is very likely the NHL Draft would not have spectators in the building. Instead, you would see general managers, scouts and front office staff on the floor and draft analysts manning their booths. Sure, it might be a bit eerie to see empty seats at the Bell Centre, but the NHL needs to be concerned about the health of every individual in the building.
Hopefully, in the coming weeks, the Canadian government and the American government will have realistic expectations of how long COVID-19 will remain prominent in both countries. Once that announcement(s) has been made, the NHL will have a better understanding of how to move forward and what the 2020 NHL Entry Draft might look like.
Josh “Jo-Tesla” Tessler
Follow my twitter here: @JoshTessler_