Is it fait accompli that the San Jose Sharks won’t be able to start the 2020-21 NHL season at SAP Center? Are they desert-bound, be it Arizona or Vegas?
Not quite yet. San Jose Hockey Now has learned, from a highly-placed NHL source, that the Sharks’ fate is “still up in the air.”
Is that good news for the Sharks, that nothing has seemingly been set in stone at this time?
What we do know is that the Sharks face a gauntlet right now between themselves and opening their 30th anniversary season at SAP Center.
To rehash: Santa Clara County, where the San Jose Sharks play and practice, has banned contact sports until December 21st. At this moment, considering the resurgence of COVID-19 in the county, there’s no reason to believe that the county will rescind its ban. And if SCC wouldn’t grant the San Francisco 49ers an exception — they moved to Arizona — why would the Sharks be any different? Meanwhile, the NHL would reportedly like to open training camp on December 31st and the regular season on January 13th.
Commissioner Gary Bettman even said today via video conference at the World Hockey Forum in Moscow: “We have a couple of clubs that can’t hold training camp or conduct games even without fans in their current buildings and facilities, and we’re going to have to move them somewhere else to play.”
“Take the San Jose Sharks, for instance,” TSN’s Frank Seravalli said yesterday. “I’m told they’re planning to open training camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., at the practice facility of the Arizona Coyotes.”
So that’s it, right? Fait accompli. Pack your bags. There seems to be nothing “up in the air” here.
That’s the thing: In the NHL’s hope to start the season as soon as possible and our hurry to hammer down details, fact is, some really important things haven’t been decided yet.
For example, the NHL still hasn’t even officially announced when the season will start and January 13th is less than a month away. Considering how the coronavirus is tearing through the United States and Canada right now, that’s good-enough reason to hold off. Speaking of Canada, the WHL just pushed back the start of its season from January 8th to TBA. Now the NHL doesn’t take its cue from the WHL, but this should tell you that things aren’t going great in Canada either.
Just speculating, but a February start could make more sense — we’ll be a little farther away from post-Thanksgiving and Christmas COVID-19 surges, and more people will be vaccinated. At that point too, perhaps Santa Clara County will relax current restrictions.
So in that sense, “up in the air” can be interpreted as a good thing, at least in regards to the Sharks playing at SAP Center. At the very least, that might be the most accurate assessment of this entire fluid situation, not just San Jose’s, but the NHL’s.
San Jose Hockey Now reached out to the San Jose Sharks and Santa Clara County for comment on this story. The Sharks declined comment and SJHN is still waiting to hear from SCC.
Special thanks to Adrian Dater for his contributions to this story. Will the NHL play MLB-like series, in division, to reduce travel this year? Check out Colorado Hockey Now for more on this story:
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