While a start date for the 2020-21 NHL season remains up in the air, deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealed the league continues to aim for a typical 82-game regular season.
"I think there are always ways to play. I think what you choose to do in terms of playing is really the more complicated question," Daly said, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside. "How do you put on a season? We remain certainly intent on trying to have an 82-game regular season. Whether that's possible or not is yet to be seen."
He continued, "I think we'd be foolish not to take advantage of the lead time we have to make the best decisions we can make. ... I do believe we're going to have a season, I just can't tell you what it looks like right now."
The NHL season typically begins in early October, but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the offseason by months. The draft and free agency are now set for the beginning of October.
When operations were paused March 12, the league worked tirelessly to formulate a plan to complete the season. The bubbles were eventually created, and games have been played for over a month with nearly zero issues.
Daly believes hosting games during the summer has worked and said the NHL may do it again next year if that's what it takes to complete a full season.
"Yes, that's a possibility," Daly added. "If anything was proven this summer, it's that having three games a day in these facilities in the heart of August wasn't problematic. A lot of people thought we'd be playing on wet surfaces, but that didn't transpire. The ice held up, the ice quality is generally good. So, playing in the summer is not a problem for us."
Daly admitted that while the bubble system has worked for the postseason, it's not plausible to force teams into bubbles for an entire regular season.
While it was initially believed the NHL would resume play for the 2020-21 season around Dec. 1, Daly confirmed it may end up being a bit later.
"What I'd say to that is that it really almost entirely depends on what it is we decide to do, and how we're going to approach it," he said. "If I had to handicap it today, it's probably less likely than more that we would start on Dec. 1. But that's not set in stone by any means."