Dreger: If NHL returns, not unreasonable that games could be played into September
The National Hockey League said Monday that no decisions have been made regarding the regular season or playoffs, and Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger is hoping his team will have a shot to contend for the Stanley Cup when play resumes.
The Sabres sat 13 points back of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes for a wild-card spot when the NHL paused their season on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're extremely disappointed that we weren't able to play those 13 [remaining] games to date," Krueger told NHL.com on Monday. "Hopefully something still pops up here and we're still hanging on to that [playoff] hope.
"Whatever decisions are made, we're going to embrace them and we'll do the best," Krueger added. "There's nothing that I cannot imagine as an option here at the moment."
The Sabres have a 30-31-8 record this season, their first with Krueger behind the bench. Buffalo was set to face the Montreal Canadiens on March 11 before the team was sent home. Krueger said the Sabres are following protocol as they await the next update.
"We found out the reality of our situation. And it was shocking at the time," Krueger said. "We were high-intensity into the season and suddenly the ground just fell out from underneath us.
"The day itself was shocking. It was very well-managed by the National Hockey League and by our management. We were quickly back on an airplane to return home and everybody went into their own quarters and quarantined from the moment we arrived home.
"As far as I know, everybody has remained in that mode of safety for now - the social distancing and all of that."
Krueger, who spent one season as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers during the lockout-shortened, 48-game season in 2012-13, said he believes sports will hold an important role once the pandemic passes.
"It's one of those [situations] where sports will be very important out the other end of this, I know that," he said. "We just have to be ready when that call comes, that we do our part to get the world in motion in the right direction again."