Bill Daly brainstormed on the way to work Thursday. The NHL is considering many possibilities for the rest of the 2019-20 season and the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, focused on awarding the Stanley Cup with integrity and preserving a full 2020-21 season.
What is the standard for awarding the Stanley Cup with integrity? What might that look like if and when it's safe to resume play this season but the NHL can't finish the full regular season and playoffs?
Each team played at least 68 games before the season was paused a week ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"That's a high percentage of the regular-season schedule," the Deputy Commissioner said Thursday. "So I think any way you cut it, regardless of whether we come back to a handful of regular-season games or we try to play all of them, which I think is becoming more unlikely, or we can't play any, I think we have had a meaningful regular season in terms of separating potential playoff teams from nonplayoff teams. And so I think in terms of integrity, the regular season has had integrity.
"What integrity means in the context of a playoff tournament, there's a couple different aspects to that. Is a single-elimination game in the context of our sport, is that really fair? And maybe it is fair, but maybe it's fair in some contexts of the playoffs and not in others. So you want to come up with a format that you think is fair for the participating teams but also has integrity in terms of producing a deserving winner."
The NHL is dealing with a complex, fluid situation.
Commissioner Gary Bettman decided to pause the NHL season March 11 after an NBA player tested positive for the virus. After the Commissioner spoke to the Board of Governors the next day, the League made the announcement.
"I think in our best-case scenario we were hoping that we would potentially be back as quickly as three, four weeks," Deputy Commissioner Daly said.
Then on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended no gatherings of more than 50 people for eight weeks.