Of the three paths the National Hockey League is exploring to hold its delayed 2020 draft, one stands head and shoulders above the others as the most intriguing — and, depending on your team of choice, infuriating or promising.
The typical arena-hosted gala, originally scheduled for June 26-17 at Montreal’s Bell Centre, feels increasingly like some sort of pandemic pipe dream.
A virtual draft, the likes of which the NFL will embark next week, is the safest route, and would place as much pressure on each franchise’s IT guy as its general manager. As was the case with Saturday Night Live at Home or that hasty Tiger King & I special, we’ll surely tune in out of curiosity, but the big moments will be impossible to land with the same punch.
It’s the NHL’s third option — a compromise between stadium status and FaceTime with Pierre Dorion! — that has piqued our interest. Mostly because there’s a chance hockey could be throwing it back to the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes.
“We’re certainly looking at options on the draft. Are we going to do the draft virtually? Are we going to end up doing the draft scaled-down like it was in Ottawa in 2005?” NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer tells Sportsnet.
“That one came out of a lockout and was a scaled-down draft. We’re keeping our options open and absolutely planning as this pause is taking place, because we need to be immediately ready when we get to go. We have to activate as quickly as we can.”
A quick refresher on the unique circumstances of 2005, the summer those lucky Pittsburgh Penguins famously “won a goddamn lottery.”