- The odds now favor the next NHL game being played some time after August 1
- The NHL suspended play on March 12 amid the widening COVID-19 pandemic, joining all other North American major sports leagues
- Get all the odds and insight into what the future holds for the NHL season in the story below
With no end in sight to the league shutdown that has now stretched into its fourth week, the odds of the next NHL game being played on or before August 1 now sit at a lengthened +100 in NHL futures betting.
Next NHL Game to be Played on August 1 or Sooner
*Odds taken on April 4, 2020.
Hope Fading Amid Widening Outbreak
The optimism that hockey would soon return after the league suspended play on March 12 has quickly faded as the COVID-19 outbreak widens across the United States and Canada, with total confirmed cases now topping 325,000 and the death toll approaching 8500. NHL players were directed to remain in self-quarantine for two weeks after the league suspended play, with the league extending that directive to April 15 after several players from the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche tested positive for the novel coronavirus that has now spread to all corners of the globe.
The NHL has reportedly asked its teams for available arena dates in July and August, indicating that a late-summer resumption may be the league's best-case scenario. #CBJ https://t.co/q4povTpCLg pic.twitter.com/XUOECQhFE4
— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) April 1, 2020
In the days following the league’s decision to suspend the season, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expressed hope that players could return to the ice within 45 days, and directed teams to ensure the availability of their respective arenas for potential game dates in July. However, even in the days immediately following the shutdown, any chance of hockey making a speedy return was considered a longshot.
Sports developments relative to coronavirus:
-NHL sends players home and will shut down for 60-days in accordance with CDC guidelines.
-NFL closes events for upcoming draft in Las Vegas.
-MLB announces openers delayed eight weeks in accordance with CDC.@wgrz
— Adam Benigni (@AdamBenigni) March 16, 2020
Bettman’s plans were in line with those of North America’s other major leagues, including the NBA, MLB, and MLS. However, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) introducing increasingly urgent guidelines advising against mass gatherings, and local and provincial/state authorities declaring states of emergency that have shut down businesses and expanded travel restrictions, the prospects of sports returning anytime soon look grim.
Trump’s Optimism Defies the Odds
US President Donald Trump tried to put a positive spin on the crisis on Saturday, following a conference call with the heads of every North American major sports league. The president suggested that sports would return “sooner rather than later”, and reiterated his belief that the 2020 NFL season would start on time.
— SportsBettingDime (@SBD) April 5, 2020
However, the odds suggest otherwise, with the NFL pegged as a short -275 bet to begin its season some time after its first slate of scheduled Sunday games on September 13, and massive -900 odds favoring a delay to the start of the NCAA college football season, which is scheduled to kick off on August 29.
Ambitious Plans Fraught with Risk
Despite the bleak outlook, speculation remains that some sports leagues are considering ways to return to action, playing games with no fans in attendance. The NBA is reportedly considering a plan that would see the remainder of the season completed in isolation in Las Vegas using an abbreviated playoff format. But such an ambitious undertaking would likely require extensive testing of all individuals involved, both on and off the court, and comes with considerable risks that are unlikely to make it viable at this time.
— Madeline Smith (@meksmith) April 3, 2020
With a growing number of jurisdictions now extending their ban on public events into the summer, including the cities of Calgary and Toronto, and the situation continuing to deteriorate in the states of New York and California, the likelihood of the NHL season being completed at all continues to fade.
#LIVE Asked about reports of President Trump urging NFL to start season on time at end of summer, Gov. Newsom responds: "I'm not anticipating that happening in California." https://t.co/nKpqMD8Q1R pic.twitter.com/8fChQ9lYlw
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) April 4, 2020
As a result, the odds of the NHL not returning by August 1 are likely to continue to shorten from their current position at -140, making now the time to place what may be your last hockey wager of the current campaign.
Pick: No (-140)