Fantasy Hockey Impact: NHL Season On Pause Due to COVID-19 Pandemic



The NHL announced that the season will be suspended indefinitely, and how the league proceeds is open to any and all options at this point. How should fantasy hockey league commissioners proceed?

For now, this is just a 'pause'. And a best-case scenario would have the league returning in two weeks, with everything getting pushed back two weeks. But we all know the odds of that happening are 0.0001%. A secondary "best case" option is for the league to return in four weeks, finishing a 74-game season, and cutting the first round of the playoffs to five-game series. This, to me, is the likely scenario if you are a super-big optimist.

While I am an optimist, I am also a realist. I look at tea leaves and try to prognosticate accordingly. I look at past situations and try to extrapolate the current situation accordingly. SARS was considered "contained" in July. COVID-19 spreads faster. So my optimism is much more conservative. I can see something creative happening such as in early May a small tournament involving teams that finished 13th through 20th (i.e. eight teams on the cusp of playoffs), with the top four teams getting into the playoffs. After this, on May 13 (for example) the abbreviated playoffs begin: a two-out-of-three series for the first round, three-out-of-five for the other three rounds. All of the above in front of zero fans. This is my optimistic guess.

My pessimistic guess: On May 8 the NHL announces that the season ends and the Stanley Cup playoffs are cancelled. Drastic? Of course. But this is happening at the worst time. We will get the coronavirus under control, but judging by the quick rate of the spread, there just isn't enough time for this to improve to the point where running a sports tournament can happen. Hockey will resume on October 7, with training camps opening in mid-September as always. That's my not-so-rosy prediction. I very much hope that I am wrong.

How Should Fantasy Leagues Handle This?

First of all, anything that you as commissioner plan to do – let your members know immediately. Nothing is to be done until the season is officially cancelled by the NHL. But when (if) it becomes official, they need to know how priz