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Odds of an NHL Game Before August 1st Set at Encouraging -200

Gary Bettman at podium
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has outlined a plan that would see the NHL return to the ice as early as next month. Photo from WKBW TV (Youtube).
  • Following NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announcing plans to resume the season, NHL games being played by August 1st is now listing at optimistic odds of -200
  • Is it realisitic to expect COVID-19 subsiding in time for the NHL to complete the 2019-20 season this summer?
  • Analysis of the odds, and picks and predictons takes place in the following story

Is it wise to wager that the NHL season will be back on the ice by August 1st?

Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman took to the airwaves, outlining plans to complete the COVID-19 delayed 2019-20 NHL campaign.

Under this new plan, there’s a three-week training camp in May or June. Teams would then be playing the conclusion of the regular season, with two months of playoffs following.

Games would be held in four NHL arenas designated to host all competition.

The plan was cause for optimism in both hockey circles and the betting world. A new betting line on the start of the NHL season now lists the chances that the NHL will be playing on August 1st as the odds-on favorite of -200.

Odds of Next NHL Game Playing Aug. 1st or Sooner

Date Odds
On or Before Aug. 1st -200
After Aug. 1st +150

Odds taken Apr. 23

That the NHL season will remain shuttered after August 1st is offering odds of +150.

NHL Optimism on High

In basic terms, the NHL plan offers some merit. Home to the games would likely be one arena chosen from each of the four divisions. These would be multi-rink facilities, enabling teams to also practice there.

The thinking is that these facilities already offer necessary infrastucture to hold NHL games, so it will be easier to control the environment. Games would be taking place without spectators in attendance.

Logistically, though, there are numerous questions that arise immediately. Players haven’t been on the ice in over a month. Muscle injuries seem a certainty because of this reality.

There’s going to be no minor leagues in action. That means requiring teams to carry taxi squads of 10-15 players who can step in when a regular is injured.

A Potential Public Relations Nightmare

The plan is that players are to be sequestered in hotels, almost in a biosphere type of environment absent of contact with the outside world. There’s many flaws with this idea.

Are players going to be willingly separated from their families for months on end? Suppose a player’s wife goes into labor? Isn’t he going to want to be there for the birth of their child? And if he leaves the controlled enviroment, when’s he allowed to return? Players getting medical treatment for non-life threatening ailments when doctors should be otherwise occupied trying to save lives won’t play well with the masses.

The NHL is saying all staff and players would be regularly tested for COVID-19. Right there is a huge red flag. The dearth of available testing for people is currently a hot-button issue in North America. And what happens if a player tests positive?

Recall the outcry when the Calgary Flames were caught jumping the queue to get H1N1 vaccines. True, the rich and famous get first dibs on everything. But rubbing everyone’s faces in that reality while people are dying would be utterly tactless.

It’s a Nice Thought…But…

No one can say for certain where COVID-19 is heading in the next while.

Ultimately, it’s not going to be Bettman’s call whether the NHL gets back on the ice. Making that determination will be public health and government officials.

At this stage of the virus, it seems unrealistic that it will happen.

Pick: No (+150)

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