NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday publicly acknowledged for the first time that the balance of the 2019-20 season could be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he maintained that scenario was only one of many different possibilities.
“Nothing has been ruled in and nothing ruled out,” Bettman said when asked about cancelling the season during an interview on NBCSN, the AP reported.
Bettman, the league's commissioner since 1993 and a Hall of Fame inductee in 2018, said the ideal scenario would be to finish the regular season and play the playoffs as normal, but he admitted it might not transpire that way.
“We understand that may not be possible,” Bettman reportedly said.
The commissioner also said the league was investigating the feasibility of playing postseason games at neutral sites, owing to how the pandemic is spreading on different time frames in different regions.
Bettman was also asked about the weekend phone call involving President Trump and top officials from a dozen major professional sports leagues, specifically whether it changed the NHL's potential timetable for a return.
“I think right now there’s too much uncertainty," Bettman said. “Hopefully we’ll all know more by the end of April.
“From an NHL standpoint, we’re viewing all of our options. We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light — and the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the [U.S. and Canada] where we can’t play and others places where you can. We’re looking at all options. Nothing’s been ruled in, nothing’s been ruled out. And it’s largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on as well.”