The Colorado Avalanche and entire NHL will be on hiatus until further notice because of the global pandemic coronavirus.
My immediate reaction to the suspension of the Colorado Avalanche’s season is that it sucks. Suspension of the season in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is the correct response, but it sucks that the situation warrants it.
As I’m sure you’re aware of by now, the NHL decided to suspend the 2019-20 NHL season indefinitely in the wake of an NBA player’s testing positive, which resulted in the suspension of the NBA season. Here is the NHL’s statement on the matter:
In fact, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated he made the decision last night but that he wanted to talk to his Board of Governors before making it official.
At the time of writing, no NHL player has tested positive for the coronavirus. Then again, I don’t know if any of the players have been tested. Indeed, Bettman said of his decision:
"“I decided it was time to get ahead of it and not wait for one of our players to get tested, because in all likelihood, at some point in time, we weren’t going to get through the rest of the season without a player testing positive.”"
I really hope no NHLers have the virus. But I suspect some might. I repeat — the situation sucks.
Anyway, for the time being our last memory of the season was a glorious overtime win by the Colorado Avalanche in which everyone played so well we were arguing about who should have been the stars of the night.
Let’s all hope that’s not the last memory of the season that we’ll have at all. We’re in uncharted territory with this illness, so it’s all a wait-and-see proposition.
In fact, this unfamiliar situation brings up some questions and musings.
What Happens with the Players?
One of the first questions I had was what do the players do? Do they just go back to their homes and train like it’s the offseason? Can they even do so with all the travel restrictions?
Apparently Bettman has asked “everyone” to self-quarantine. I’m not sure if that “everyone” includes players.
According to Avs insider Adrian Dater, the teams aren’t allowed to run any official practices or activities. However, I would think they could train or rehab on their own if they wanted. Whether the self-quarantine meant they couldn’t rent ice time is uncertain.
According to Dater, the players will continue to collect their last three paychecks.
What Can the Remainder of the Season Look Like?
There’s no telling how long this suspension can last. Bettman even hesitates to call it a suspension — he prefers the term “pause.” His hope is that the season can continue eventually and the Stanley Cup can be awarded.
What would that look like, though? Would teams just pick up where they left off? Or would we go right into the playoffs?
The NHL has asked teams to let the league know about arena availability into July. What kind of hockey, if any, is happening in spring and summer depends on when the coronavirus is seen to be contained enough for the games to be safe.
One option is to let the standings fall where they are right now. If that’s the case, the Colorado Avalanche are #2 in the Western Conference, and Vancouver, Minnesota, and Arizona get the green weenie in the West.
Another option is to let the bubble teams play a round robin to decide the wild card spots.
If the suspension lingers at all, we may also be looking at truncated playoffs. The teams could play best-of-five or even best-of-three.
And would the teams need a mini training camp before resumption of the season? I’m not sure of that. I would think the players are going to be training and rehabilitating with the expectation of resumption. Training camp is more for systems, and they already have that.
What Other Factors Apply to the Suspension?
Some readers in an Athletic article had a good question — what’ happens with free agency? Players enter free agency on July 1, which is usually well after the awarding of the Stanley Cup and the draft.
However, if teams are still playing for the Cup in July, what about pending free agents?
More from Mile High Sticking
- Could Colorado Avalanche move on from Pavel Francouz next offseason?
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- Colorado Avalanche make sneaky signing with Tatar
- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog could return in 2023-24 playoffs
- Colorado Avalanche rookie face-off tournament roster
Colorado has six pending unrestricted free agents and an additional seven restricted free agents (of those playing with the team right now.) If the Colorado Avalanche are playing in Cup finals in July, what about those players?
Another factor is the NHL awards and the draft. Obviously, they’ll probably get pushed back until after the awarding of the Stanley Cup. However, if the NHL doesn’t play any more regular season games, I guess you just have to take things as they stand now for both awards and draft standings.
That also gives teams playing well into the playoffs very little turnaround time before training camp in September. Would the 2020-21 season have to be pushed back, too?
Finally, what about all the fans — including me — who have tickets to upcoming games? The Avalanche have released a statement about that situation:
Essentially, if they play the games, your ticket will be good for the rescheduled game. If they don’t you should be eligible for a refund.
Unfortunately, some people are going to be left out because fans fly in and pay for hotels to watch games. They might be able to sell their ticket if they can’t make it, but they’re probably out the flight and hotel money.
Pandemics don’t care about your plans.
I’m going to be childish for just a second because I think a lot of Colorado Avalanche fans are feeling this way.
The Avalanche are finally good and we have a legitimate chance of winning the Stanley Cup, and all of that is in jeopardy because of some stupid virus that sounds like a beer.
Ok, back to seriousness. In one way, the suspension can be to Colorado’s advantage because they were already having to ice a patchwork team because of all the injuries. Now players have time to heal and rehab.
I just really hope we get to see some more Colorado Avalanche hockey. Until then, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and keep coming back to Mile High Sticking. The NHL is suspending games — but we’re not going to suspend coverage of the team.