Gary Bettman Working Behind The Scenes To Ensure Return To Play

As MLB publicly negotiates return-to-play proposals, Bettman has taken the opposite approach, which has been a staple of his tenure

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
May 21, 2020 - 7:41 am
Gary Bettman NHL

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As Major League Baseball (publicly) negotiates return-to-play proposals with players, the NHL, you may have noticed, is more so working behind closed doors to find solutions that work for everyone.

This is not uncommon for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

“When the season went on pause [in March], we got up the next morning and I started looking at the standings and trying to figure out exactly how this might get resolved,” Sharks radio voice Dan Rusanowsky said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Of course, we had no idea how long the pause was going to last, but it’s very typical of Gary Bettman to do a lot of speculative talk and the prospective talk behind the scenes and come out with a unified way of presenting it. That’s happened before in a variety of other factors around the league, so it doesn’t surprise me that the NHL has spoken a little bit less than other leagues about it – at least out in the open. But once it’s proper to do so, they’ll do that. 

“I think that we’ve seen great results of that in the NHL under Gary’s leadership and of course with Don Fehr and everybody else over at the players association, who are heavily involved in this on the return-to-play committee.” 

As Rusanowsky sees it, 24 teams have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, and most have played between 68 and 71 games. If the NHL does return in 2020, Rusanowsky believes the league should cap the regular season at 74 or 76 games.

“The NHL did play those numbers of games at certain points in the 1970s when they were beginning to expand it a little bit more,” he said. “So it’s not unprecedented. Then you have a reasonable season and then you have an equalized number of games played if possible for the draft position. But now that we’ve gotten to this point with teams that aren’t in the playoff picture – say the Sharks, for instance – does it really make sense for them to go out and play some games? So I think if you do that with the teams that are left, the 24 teams, that’s possible. Then you have a play-in until you get to 16 games, and then you do the playoffs we normally do. I think it’s reasonable. I think that everything that’s being discussed makes sense.”