Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan believes the 2019-20 NHL season will return at some point in the coming months after being sidelined since March 12 due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.
Shanahan joined TSN 1050's Overdrive Monday afternoon and said though he's optimistic the NHL can get back on the ice for games this season, he isn't sure when that will be and realizes a lot needs to happen to get to that point.
"I'm running out of things to watch on Netflix so I would be thrilled to see some sports on TV," Shanahan said. "When the time is right it would be a very optimistic step for our country."
Shanahan, who won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings during his 22-year career, says there is plenty of determination between the owners and players to get back when it's safe to do so.
"I don't think it's right around the corner and I think that's there's certainly a lot of important things that have to happen in the world first," said the 51-year-old.
"First and foremost, as you hear about a lot of businesses, it's testing and it's getting the health care services to a point where they're better equipped or prepared to put out hot spots or different things that might occur if there's a resurgence. But, when you talk to other people in the league and when you talk [to] players there's such a determination at some point to finish the regular season in some form and have a playoff. When you [have] both parties so determined to do something and you got a little bit more time than people realize, I think it will happen."
Shanahan says he still feels time is on the NHL's side despite the league being halted for a month and no re-start date in sight.
"I do think, when you talk about timelines and restrictions, I think there's a lot more flexibility in the NHL than people may realize. If it happens it's probably not going to look the way that we're used to," he explained. "I don't really believe stories of these crazy neutral sites. I still always think if we're going to do this it's going to be in a hockey market. A market where the infrastructure for putting on hockey and hockey games is available."
If the NHL is able to return this summer, don't expect any fans in the stands, says the Hall of Fame forward.
"I think it's highly unlikely we finish these season in front of fans, but I still think there's an appetite for hockey fans if games are on TV," Shanahan said.
As for how the Leafs front office is keeping in touch with the players during quarantine, Shanahan says most of that work is being done by general manager Kyle Dubas, head coach Sheldon Keefe as well as the training staff, but he is still missing seeing everybody on a regular basis.
"Generally speaking, I'll check in every once and a while. I don't think they want to be hearing from me everyday, but I still like to touch base with the guys....I miss seeing them. I miss seeing them on the ice. I miss seeing them at work like everybody, but at this same time I think that they're doing what a lot of other NHL players are doing which is train, being ready," he said. "They're hoping that if they do get that phone call they'll be ready to pivot and get back at as quickly as possible."
When the league came to a stop last month due to the coronavirus, the Leafs were sitting in the third and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with 12 games remaining on the schedule.