The National Hockey League return-to-play structure has been put in place. The two hub cities have been selected. Training camps are fully underway. Teams and players are set to head out to their respective ‘bubbles’ within the week. Exhibition games have been scheduled. Safety protocol has been put in place. A players’ lounge has been setup in each rink. Excursions are being prepared.
What is left to be done?
On Tuesday afternoon, the league announced the television broadcast schedule of all 12 exhibition and 52 potential qualifying round, best-of-five and round robin games. Featuring a ‘world stream’ much like that of the Olympics, NBC will be responsible for producing the content out of Toronto, while Sportsnet will work out of Edmonton. All games will be on a five-second live delay to monitor the explicit audible remarks expected to be easily heard from the players within empty arenas.
Chris Cuthbert and Louie DeBrusk will call the games featuring Canadian teams at Rogers Place for Sportsnet, while Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson will do the same for games with Canadian teams at Scotiabank Arena. For the Conference Finals, both Sportsnet crews will move to Edmonton, where shared duties will be assigned. Gord Miller, Mike Milbury and John Forslund will call the ‘American’ games for NBC in Toronto, while the American crew for Edmonton has yet to be unveiled.
The 2020 return-to-play structure is an estimated $50-70 million endeavour by the NHL, which will feature a bubble lifestyle that includes organized excursions for players and team staff (following the mandatory 14-day quarantine), daily COVID-19 testing, and the potential to bring family members into the hotels during the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final.
For the Winnipeg Jets and the 11 other Western Conference teams preparing for the Qualifying Round, exhibition games will run from Tuesday, July 28 to Thursday July 30. Each team will play once, with Winnipeg taking on the Vancouver Canucks at 9:30 PM on July 30, in a game broadcasted live on Sportsnet.
The schedule for Winnipeg’s best-of-five play-in series against the Calgary Flames is as follows:
Game 1 – Jets at Flames – August 1 – 9:30 PM Central – CBC/Sportsnet
Game 2 – Jets at Flames – August 3 – 1:30 PM Central – Sportsnet
Game 3 – Flames at Jets – August 4 – 5:45 PM Central – Sportsnet
Game 4 – Flames at Jets – August 6 – TBD *If Necessary – Sportsnet
Game 5 – Jets at Flames – August 8 – TBD *If Necessary – Sportsnet