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What would summer playoff hockey look like?

The National Hockey League has had a few conference calls over the past few days, updating both the Board of Governors and the general managers about the ongoing pause in the 2019-20 season related to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s beginning to look a lot like we may be looking at Stanley Cup playoff hockey… in the summertime.

When the league initially shut down, teams were asked for building availability for June and July. But according to TSN’s Insider Trading panel, teams have been asked for dates into the month of August.

The NHL season was suspended on March 12 with roughly three and a half weeks remaining in the schedule. At the time, the Center for Disease Control recommended an eight week pause on large events – which would bring things into mid-May as the earlier potential time when the NHL schedule could be resumed. The post-season typically takes about two months. Barring a truncation of the schedule – regular season or playoffs – the NHL will need about three months to finish things off, which would potentially burn off June, July and August inclusive.

The Flames run the Scotiabank Saddledome and the building doesn’t have a ton of bookings right now for the summer. They have two dates in May, one in June, three in July (all around the vicinity of the Stampede) and one in late August. It would be possible to accommodate a summer hockey schedule without too much shuffling.

The big X-factor would be the ‘Dome’s ice plant. The Saddledome is the oldest building in the league and has a fairly old ice plant (relative to the rest of the league). If it’s a hot summer and hockey returns with a packed schedule, it could lead to some dice ice conditions.

But considering where things are right now – with a lot of uncertainty in the world overall – we’re sure everyone would be perfectly content to have choppy ice be the biggest concern they have to deal with.