When times are normal, college hockey commissioners talk about once a month.

Right now, things are not normal.

The commissioners of college hockey's six men's conferences have been on calls about once a week discussing the global coronavirus pandemic and sharing different ideas of how -- and when -- they might be able to play the 2020-21 season.

The only major domino to fall thus far is the six Ivy League schools -- Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown and Princeton -- announcing they won't compete until at least Jan. 1. There have been other changes, like the canceling of numerous nonconference flight trips, but those are of the smaller variety.

In the last two weeks, athletic departments have been fully focused on making decisions on their fall sports teams. Now, those decisions have largely been finalized and the attention is expected to turn toward winter sports like hockey.

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As of this week, no major decisions were believed to be imminent, however, plenty of ideas have been kicked around between commissioners, athletic directors and NCAA Division I Hockey Committee members.

The Herald surveyed several high-ranking men's college hockey officials to learn what's being discussed behind the scenes, granting them anonymity in order to open more forthright dialogue.

When might the season start?

At this point, three different potential starting dates have been at the forefront of the discussion.

Idea No. 1: Start on time on Oct. 3.

There's almost nobody in the college hockey world who still believes this is realistic. There were a couple of officials who were holding out hope about a month ago, but even they appear resigned that it's not going to happen now.

One official called the idea of starting Oct. 3 "challenging."

Others are more pointed.

"If anybody thinks we're starting Oct. 3," another official said, "please ask that person what they're smoking and where I can get some."

Idea No. 2: Start in mid-to-late November.

The goal here would be to line up the college hockey season with the college basketball season.

If college basketball is able to start on its first day, Nov. 10, as planned, then college hockey wants to follow the lead of basketball.

In fact, college hockey officials have been in contact with some power brokers in the college basketball world to get their thoughts and understand the processes they're going through to try to hold a basketball season beginning in November.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported Friday that several college basketball conferences "view the window between the day after Thanksgiving and January 1st as a 'golden opportunity' to get games played," because most schools won't have many students on campus at the time, decreasing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Idea No. 3: Start in January.

The Ivy League has already pushed its start to January.

If there are coronavirus outbreaks when in-person learning begins this month and schools are forced to go online only for the first semester, that would almost certainly wipe out any chance of sports in the fall semester, too.

A source told the Herald last month that the NCHC has already started working on a conference schedule that begins in the second semester in case that scenario arrives. The NCHC still appears to be holding out hope for a November start, though.

Of course, all of these scenarios will be dictated by the prevalence of the coronavirus, the availability of testing, the turnaround time for results and financial considerations.

"We know (the players) want to compete," one official said. "We know they want to play. We're going to try our hardest. We've got to work through our progressions. We're going to do it in the safest and most responsible manner."

Changing the timeline of the season, and allowing time for medical developments, could help.

Could the NCAA tournament be moved?

Is it possible to change the dates of the NCAA tournament, which is usually played in late March and early April? Yes.

Would it be challenging? Yes.

Most in the college hockey world would like to see the NCAA tournament pushed back to May or even as late as June.

If college hockey teams and leagues had any sort of assurances that was going to happen, they'd likely turn their attention toward starting the season in the second semester. However, once source told the Herald, "We're very far from any decisions there."

There are issues in regards to contracts signed with the NCAA regional host sites (Fargo, Loveland, Colo., Manchester, N.H., and Bridgeport, Conn.) and the NCAA Frozen Four site (Pittsburgh). These are major events that take a year or more of planning and cannot easily be moved to new dates.

However, instead of pushing back the regionals and Frozen Four and holding them in the same places, there have been discussions about holding the NCAA tournament -- both regionals and potentially even the Frozen Four -- in home venues of participating teams.

That could cut down on travel expenses (and finances will be watched extra close if there are limited or no fans at the NCAA tournament, which would decimate the gate revenue used to support the tournament).

In the past, coaches have largely been against putting NCAA tournament games in home venues. They prefer holding them at neutral sites. But one source told the Herald, in this situation, he believes coaches would be on board with just about anything in order to play the season, and they've accepted that a lot of things will have to be outside-the-box.

In the next two weeks, NCAA committees and commissioners are expected to explore, in depth, pushing the tournament back a month or two.

"I don't think there's any question anything and everything is on the table," one source said. "We have to have everything on the table."

If the NCAA tournament is moved back, then leagues will have to figure out how to move their conference tournaments back as well. There are contractual issues to work through on that front.

Will the Pairwise still work?

College hockey uses the Pairwise Rankings, which are compiled using a formula, to select its 16-team NCAA tournament field. A major part of that formula is the RPI.

However, if the pandemic forces leagues to play conference games only -- and there isn't crossover between the leagues -- the RPI won't work. An NCAA committee has already started discussing this issue and how it could be resolved. They are not close to any resolution, though.

The NCAA basketball tournament uses computer ratings as a guideline to select its tournament fields, but it ultimately comes down to the human element and a committee making subjective decisions. That might be an option for college hockey in 2020-21.

When will decisions be made?

There are numerous other issues being discussed, including scheduling models to minimize travel, arena protocols and more.

Those talks will pick up in the next few weeks as college hockey's leaders examine the feasibility of different options.

"But," a source warned, "it will 100 percent come back to safety."