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Survey: Nice job, but NHL fans want an 82-game 2020-21 season

Can the NHL do the seemingly impossible again? Should they try?

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Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders - Game Six
Tip our hats to you, sirs.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL has emerged from the bubble...unscathed and with a new, undisputed Stanley Cup champion? Raise your hand if back in April or May you thought such a conclusion, view the security lockdown in two Canadian cities, involving 24 teams, was possible.

The latest SB Nation Reacts, a weekly survey of fans across the NHL, didn’t address the prospects and expectations for the (since completed) bubble but rather who was expected to win it all, whether it was all worth it, and what we should anticipate for the 2020-21 season.

Sign up here to join Reacts and participate in these weekly 1- to 3-question surveys.

According to the poll as the Cup final began, a slight majority of NHL fans thought the Lightning would get the job done.

Was this Bubble Cup Legit?

Fewer than a quarter of fans said this season should have an asterisk next to it because of the stoppage and bubble. You had two “bye” seed teams making the finals, so I can’t imagine why any of this could possibly deserve an asterisk.

How Important is an 82-Game Season?

That said, a clear majority of fans don’t want to see another abridged or interrupted season. Nearly two-thirds of those responding want the NHL to figure out a way to hold a full 82-game season in 2020-21.

Yet as with so many things during the pandemic, I can want something all I want, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily attainable or reasonable. Looking at things from the vantage point of Oct. 1, so many practical reality — teams traveling, border issues between the U.S. and Canada, the possibility of temporary realignment, a season that doesn’t start until December or January — makes creating a coherent 82-game season that finishes before July look pretty daunting.

But the NHL just exceeded expectations with this summer’s experiment. Maybe they can do it again.

To vote in the Reacts surveys and have your voice heard each week, sign up here.