The Impact of Cancelling The NHL Season

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced the suspension of its 2020 season after it was discovered that Utah Jazz’ player Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with the Coronavirus. In the same timeframe, the showbizness world was also put into shock when highly decorated actor Tom Hanks and his wife posted a message announcing that they both had contracted the virus as well, while filming in Australia. Cases are mounting everywhere in the world, to the point where the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

As reporters were lined up at the Canadiens’ practice facility in Brossard, the team announced that practice was cancelled and that there would be no media availability today. It seems like the NHL has sent a memo to all teams to do the same and games for tonight are all in jeopardy at the time of writing this. There is a strong feeling that all NHL activities could be suspended in a soon to come announcement, as a precautionary measure in order to protect people from the spread of the pandemic. If the NHL makes such a drastic decision, it is expected that the American Hockey League (AHL) will also follow suit.

EDIT: The NHL has since made the following announcement…

This is not a decision taken lightly by the league(s) and by teams as well. The cancellation of games, possibly even the season, would have a major impact on many levels, on many people, with repercussion having a domino effect from one to another. Here are a few examples:

Revenue

League revenue, teams revenue from the sale of tickets, playoffs’ revenue on which owners are counting on – as players aren’t paid in the playoffs – would be huge blows to teams gearing up for a playoffs’ race and Stanley Cup contenders.

Pre-paid Sponsorships

We’re talking here about all kinds of sponsorships. TV and radio rights, TV and radio advertising, in-arena games advertising and sponsorships, league advertising campaigns, every dollar would have to either be reimbursed or transferred over to next season. This will also impact those companies’ exposure and revenue as well.

Players’ salaries

Teams still have 10-14 games remaining to be played, which represents money for the players. What happens to those guaranteed contracts? If owners lose on revenues, one would think that it would put a stop on them having to pay players since there is no games to be played. Oh they’re not poor, but their lifestyle is based on their revenues too.

Employment – Staff

This is something that is often forgotten by the average fan during lockouts or when the league ceases its activities. There are people employed by the teams, by the league, who rely on those jobs to make ends meet. We’re not talking about people making millions here, but blue collar, white collar workers with mortgages and families. This would be an unexpected pay cut to which they could not prepare in advance.

Media

Of course we can talk big picture, as in TV rights and sponsorships. It is no secret that Sportsnet, and particularly TVA Sports (French TV rights) are losing money, or at least not making as much as they would like to. But what about the reporters covering NHL teams? What about the technicians, those behind the scene, from print to radio to television and even internet content? Those families will also be affected negatively.

Standings – Draft order

The easy thing would be to think that they would take the standings as they are, but it’s not that simple. Teams all have anywhere between 10-14 games remaining so it’s an uneven playing field and a lot is on the line when it comes to the odds of getting the first overall pick. Will they base it on the winning percentage – the pace – to determine how many points they would have after 82 games?

Teams’ window of opportunity

You have teams who have sacrificed assets at trade deadline, getting pending UFAs in order to load up for a playoffs’ run. Those players will still be UFAs at season’s end but those teams won’t get their assets back, their picks and young players. Imagine a team like the Edmonton Oilers, who have made the playoffs once in the last 13 years and are in a playoffs’ position… those owners and players could lose out once again.

CBA negotiations

What would the loss of revenue do to next year’s salary cap? What impact would this have on reaching an agreement for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NHL and the NHLPA? And what about the revenue sharing between richer and “poorer” teams?

MLSE has sent an email to staff indicating the Raptors (who recently played the Utah Jazz) and their staff are in quarantine for two weeks. All players were tested last night; they are still awaiting results. It has now been announced that the MLS has suspended its season. Now think of Junior hockey and other sports… March madness… What about concerts? This is getting very serious and we’re not talking about toilet paper here… Go Habs Go!

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