The most abnormal offseason in the history of the NHL is creeping closer to the end, when perhaps the second- most abnormal NHL season will take place. Likely some time in January, the NHL will begin a new season, with length and number of games yet to be determined.
Former Flyer and current Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Michael Barkann that the Coyotes, and a lot of teams in the league, are just doing what they can.
“I think a lot of teams are doing the same thing, opening up our facilities," Tocchet said Wednesday. "We are trying to get the protocols from the NHL. It’s similar to football, have to get tested every day.
“The date is not there obviously, I think we’re all generalizing somewhere in January.”
Earlier this week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league was looking into potential hub cities, in which teams could possibly travel to a city, play a series of games against a group of teams, then travel back home to be with their families, before traveling to another hub city. This plan is one we had not heard before this week, but Tocchet said he likes the idea.
“I agree with Gary on that, I think if somehow we can stay in a situation a little longer, play a team maybe a few times in that hub city; I think when you start to travel, it gets dicey,” Tocchet said. “I like that, I think the players would respond well to it.”
This is a plan that before the last eight months would have seemed very far-fetched, but given the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, and everything that has already happened in 2020, a hub city plan would almost seem par for the course. The Coyotes' head coach, whose team was in the Edmonton bubble for one month, applauded the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the Western Conference champion Dallas Stars for their ability to adapt to bubble life during their three months in Toronto and Edmonton before the Lightning were crowned champions.
It’ll take similar resilience to deal with whatever protocols and challenges this next NHL season will present.
“The teams that can deal with it the best, is the team that’s going to be the most successful,” Tocchet said.
This past weekend, Tocchet was named to the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. The man who wore No. 22 and then later No. 92 for the orange and black was extremely appreciative to be inducted with a star-studded 2020 class that includes the late Kobe Bryant.
“It’s a great honor, Philly has always been a part of my heart," Tocchet said. "To have your name anywhere near Kobe Bryant, it’s amazing. Philly is one of the best sports towns ever, so you’re very humbled. Great honor.”
Tocchet rightfully taking his place in Philadelphia sports history.