FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

NHL LIVE: RETURN TO PLAY QUOTES AND ANALYSIS FROM NHL’S RETURN TO PLAY ANNOUNCEMENT

Quotes and Analysis from Yesterday’s NHL Return to Play Announcement on NBCSN

Hockey Happy Hour Features Two Notable Milestone and Record Performances Today and Tomorrow on NBCSN

Alex Ovechkin and Auston Matthews on Men in Blazers On Ice – Today at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

STAMFORD, Conn. – May 27, 2020 – The NHL’s Return to Play plan for the 2019-20 season was formally announced on NHL Live: Return To Play yesterday on NBCSN. The hour-long program was hosted by NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico who spoke with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Executive Director of the NHL Players Association Donald Fehr. NHL on NBC analysts Eddie Olczyk and Patrick Sharp joined the program to provide analysis and reaction.

The remainder of this week’s Hockey Happy Hour coverage on NBCSN includes two notable milestone and record performances today and tomorrow. Roger Bennett, co-host of THE MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW, hosts an interview series, Men in Blazers On Ice, featuring stars from around the NHL today on NBCSN at 4:30 p.m. ET. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews headline the episode.

DATE EVENT TIME (ET) NETWORK
Wednesday, May 27 #HockeyAtHome: Meet & Greet 4 p.m. NBCSN
  Men in Blazers On Ice 4:30 p.m. NBCSN
  Calgary vs. Colorado (2019 Western Conference First Round, Game 3) 5 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday, May 28 Chicago vs. Anaheim (2015 Western Conference Final, Game 5) 5 p.m. NBCSN

Following are quotes from Bettman, Fehr, Olczyk and Sharp on NHL Live: Return To Play:

NHL COMMISSIONER GARY BETTMAN

Bettman on hub cities: “The reason there are so many cities still in contention is we didn’t want to be in a situation with things in the world moving so quickly, changing from day-to-day, we didn’t want to get locked in. We don’t want to go to a place where there’s a lot of COVID-19, we don’t want to go to a place where we can’t get the testing we need and where there’d be extensive testing…health and safety is the most important thing so there must be test available on a wide-scale basis without disrupting any medical needs. And there are governmental issues. Currently we don’t think we could do this in the Canadian markets because there is a 14-day quarantine. We are talking to the Canadian government about it, but if we get done with training camps and we want to go to a Canadian city and in order to do that we’re going to quarantine for 14 days, that isn’t going to work….we’re probably three weeks or more away from having to make a decision, but I didn’t want to be in a situation where we locked into one place and something was going on there that might want to cause us to reconsider, so it’s great that we have all of these options.”

Bettman on if latter portion of Playoffs could be played in home cities: “Yes. It depends on what the world looks like. If you made me guess today, I think we’d be in one of the two hub cities, or conceivably a third hub city, but if things change dramatically and we have the ability to go back to the home markets…we anticipate playing without fans, but if at some point things change and we could, we would reevaluate. Everything we have been doing over the past 10-12 weeks was having to do with preparing for whatever might be in front of us. Having alternatives, having optionality, and making sure we were flexible enough to adapt to whatever was going on.”

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NHL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION DONALD FEHR

Fehr on players health and safety protocols: “I think what we have done as best we can at this point is design appropriate health and safety protocols. If they need to be amended over time, we will amend them. This is a living document.”

Fehr on his hopes of the NHL finishing this season: “I certainly hope that we can. I certainly hope that is the case. I certainly hope that all the necessary agreements, health and safety, and economic, and the rest can be finalized, so that they can take place. But I hope it is for another reason, because if we can, that would suggest that the world is beginning to return a little bit towards normal.”

Fehr on protecting players and staff: “Can we satisfy that the health and safety of the players and the rest of the staff and everybody else that would be involved can be protected? And can the rest of the agreements we need to make be done? If you don’t have something you are planning, if you don’t have something you can work towards, then we are going to end up getting to a place in which we say alright let’s go ahead and we won’t be able to. So, you have to do this in stages.”

NHL ON NBC ANALYST EDDIE OLCZYK

Olczyk on the NHL Return to Play announcement: “What a great day for hockey fans and people that love this great game. A tip of the hockey helmet to Commissioner Bettman and (NHL Deputy Commissioner) Bill Daly for being transparent through this whole process.”

Olczyk on 24 teams restarting play: “At the end of the day, they (the league) got it right … you’re always going to have someone on the outside looking in, but this is uncharted territory … I am fine with the way it is going to play out with the resume to play (format).”

“When you have this tournament format … with these players being off for as long as they have, … this thing is absolutely wide open. It doesn’t matter what a team did three months ago, that’s out the window.”

Olczyk on the potential Carolina-New York Rangers matchup: “If the Rangers would have went and made the playoffs (in a non-paused season), Artemi Panarin could have been a finalist for MVP … you have two teams that like to get up and go, this should be a lot of fun.”

NHL ON NBC ANALYST PATRICK SHARP

Sharp on the potential Edmonton-Chicago qualifying round matchup: “I start thinking of the two best players in the game, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, whenever they are on the ice, you’re going to notice it. They are dynamic players to watch…No. 88 (on Chicago) Patrick Kane lives for these big moments. Seems like every time he’s in the playoffs, he wants the puck on his stick.”

Sharp on the potential Pittsburgh-Montreal matchup: “Carey Price in the net is a gamechanger… when you have Price in net making saves, you have a chance every night.”

***

WEDNESDAY, MAY 27

#HOCKEYATHOME: MEET & GREET AT 4 P.M. ET

NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen co-hosts a 30-minute program that features Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel and Matt Duchene of the Nashville Predators meeting fans and answering their questions virtually during the league’s hiatus.

MEN IN BLAZERS ON ICE AT 4:30 P.M. ET

Roger Bennett, co-host of THE MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW, hosts an interview series featuring stars from around the NHL. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews headline this episode.

FLAMES-AVALANCHE (2019 WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND, GAME 3) AT 5 P.M. ET

Just two days after finishing his college season at UMass, Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar scored his first career NHL goal, on his first shot, in his debut in Game 3. In becoming the first defenseman to ever score a goal while making his NHL debut in the postseason, Makar factored in Colorado’s 6-2 victory and two-games-to-one series lead.

Gord Miller (play-by-play) and Ray Ferraro (analyst) called the game action from Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo.

THURSDAY, MAY 28

BLACKHAWKS-DUCKS (2015 WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL, GAME 5) AT 5 P.M. ET

In the first-ever playoff meeting between these two teams, the series was tied at two games apiece heading into Game 5. Jonathan Toews of Chicago forced an overtime period when he scored two goals with under two minutes left in regulation, but Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey scored the winning goal in overtime for the 5-4 win. With the victory, the Ducks improved to 11-3 in the 2015 postseason, tying the NHL record for the most consecutive games to begin the playoffs without a regulation loss.

Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Joe Micheletti (analyst) and Brian Engblom (‘Inside the Glass’ analyst) had the call from Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

–NBC SPORTS–