TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger, Frank Seravalli and Pierre LeBrun joined host James Duthie to discuss what went on during the NHL Board of Governors call on Monday, the league’s latest timetable for Phase 2 and refund policies for fans who have tickets for games they won’t be able to attend.
What came out of the Board of Governors call Monday?
There was nearly a two-hour call on Monday between the NHL’s Board of Governors. What were the specifics discussed and did anything else come up other than the feasibility of a June draft?
LeBrun: An hour and 45 minutes on that call Monday and there was a lot of ground covered. Obviously the draft was at the heart of it. No decision made yet as we reported. The league is going to take at least the rest of the week if not into next week before announcing a decision on whether or not to hold the June draft. There are still issues to work through but there were other elements to this board call. Once again the league’s infectious disease consultant updated governors on what he’s hearing, what he’s seeing and giving an idea and a view of the pandemic. That’s happened on every governors’ call since the pause. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also addressed governors about the league’s idea going to a four-site centralized format, tournament if you want. Eleven to 14 teams have put in bids to be one of those four sites. Now, Bettman apparently told governors as I’m told that yes, they players have concerns as Darren Dreger talked about last week about being in a bubble for three months. And that the league and the players’ association are trying to come up with solutions to that. Perhaps the players getting a break out of the bubble to go see their loved ones. So lots to work over there and the Return to Play Committee, which has players on it, is meeting again for a fourth time with the NHL officials on Wednesday.
What’s the latest timetable for Phase 2?
Before there can be any resumption of play, NHL players have to get back into Phase 2 where teams begin opening facilities for small group workouts.
Dreger: Well the NHL is hopeful that they’ll be able to initiate Phase 2 in later May. But that’s all subject to review and it’s too early to start the review process. The NHL though is encouraged by the markets that are loosening up but they’re cautiously optimistic and monitoring carefully to see if there will be any setbacks. The motto is simply better safe than sorry. Phase 2 though can’t really get started until the large majority of the NHL teams are able to open up and that means players coming back. But here’s an interesting twist to all of that. Even though a majority of clubs may be able to open up, unless they can all open up at the same time or around the same time, the NHL isn’t going to allow players to go to their club facility again until the majority are able to do that.
What about refunds?
If the NHL does resume its 2019-20 season, it will very likely be in empty arenas. How does this affect fans who have already purchased tickets?
Seravalli: At this point the NHL is leaving it up to individual clubs to decide. But the point being that all clubs are currently working through a process to begin coming up with plans for fans to refund money. The large majority of teams would like to try and roll that money from this season into next year’s ticket plans. But certainly teams like the New Jersey Devils have come out and already begun to offer refunds and incentives - if you renew your package for next season or roll that money forward [they] will be donating tickets to frontline workers to use next season. Teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, you have to ask for a refund instead of a credit if you’d like it. And the Canadian clubs of course are working through their own process. The Edmonton Oilers hope to formalize their plans next week. And when you’re dealing with as many as seven home dates that could be unplayable at this point, you begin to start to realize the revenue that the NHL and these teams are losing. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in gates, concessions, merchandise and parking for these games that if they aren’t played, certainly if they are played there’s not going to be fans in the building and you begin to understand just how big this pile of money is.