As we all struggle with the pain of losing hockey, let us not forget that we are not alone in our woe. Across Europe, leagues were forced to shut down operations before the hard work and sacrifice of one fortunate team could be rewarded.
Only Belarus actually saw its campaign to completion (there’s a video of the Belarussian president calling the rink and hockey a natural antidote to COVID-19). Unfortunately, doctors didn’t agree with that decision, nor did the directors of the remaining leagues.
In Europe, the various dimensions add an extra layer of complexity. Of primary note would be the concept of relegation. Those countries which employ such a system usually have a short tournament at the end of the season to give the best teams in the “minor” league a chance to move up — and vice versa. This gives those lower-level teams added credibility. It can increase their attendance, their revenues, and allow them to attract some of the players about to be mentioned.