Expanded NHL playoff format anticipated to be accredited


It was two months in the past when the NHLPA launched a participant ballot rating every thing from the perfect ahead and greatest defenceman to the league’s greatest trash-talker.

Carey Worth was voted the perfect goalie. It wasn’t even shut.

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So when a Pittsburgh weblog reported on Friday that the Penguins had voted “a tough no” for an expanded playoff format as a result of it might imply having to face the Montreal Canadiens goalie in a best-of-five “play-in” collection, it was plausible.

It was even justified.

In any case, it wasn’t simply Worth’s capability to steal a collection that ought to have Penguins’ gamers anxious. It was that the Canadiens, a crew that had a less-than 1% likelihood of constructing the playoffs when the season was paused, have been all of the sudden being gifted a free go into the post-season.

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Truthful or not, it was believed that the NHLPA nonetheless acquired the required 18 votes for a 24-team post-season on Friday. And whereas Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Penguins participant rep Kris Letang had voted “sure” (“It’s an important problem for our crew proper off the bat,” he mentioned) the choice to return with a 24-team playoff was not with out its detractors. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that discussions on Thursday have been “spirited, if not raucous.”

Anticipate extra of the identical when — or if — the Stanley Cup is awarded someday in August or September.

This format shouldn’t be excellent. It’s not even near being excellent. However you’re not going to get perfection after sitting out for greater than two months — and with presumably one other month two months earlier than significant hockey is likely to be performed. For probably the most half, the gamers settle for that. And so, the NHL is one step nearer to returning this summer time.

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“I feel no matter route we go on, whichever format we agree on, shouldn’t be going to be excellent,” St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo advised the FAN590 on Friday. “An ideal situation, which can by no means occur, is we proceed to play like we usually do. So there’s going to be some concessions from everyone.”

Certainly, in a super world the NHL would have accomplished the remaining video games within the common season and held a conventional 16-team playoff. However these are usually not regular instances.

And so, a league that has been on maintain since March 12 was pressured to get inventive.

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Moderately than exclude, the NHL expanded. The playoffs are usually not going to be like all post-season you’ve seen earlier than.

Twenty-four groups will now have an opportunity at profitable the Cup, with the top-four seeds in every convention receiving a bye to what’s basically the primary spherical. The brand new wrinkle is that these groups will face the winners of a best-of-five play-in collection that can embrace the groups that completed fifth by way of 12th within the respective conferences.

There had been speak of getting 20 groups and even 22. As an alternative, the league went to 24, which coincidentally means Montreal and Chicago — two Authentic Six groups and two of the larger markets within the league — at the moment are included, no matter whether or not they deserve it or not.

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Possibly this can be thrilling. Possibly it’s a primary of many 24-team post-seasons. However you’ll be able to most likely guess what the response can be from traditionalists if a Canadiens crew that trailed the Penguins by 15 factors the final time hockey was performed manages to sneak into the dance.

Think about what they’ll say if the Habs go all the best way and win the Cup?

Then once more, in the event that they have been to tug off such a feat, you’ll be able to’t actually argue that they didn’t deserve it greater than any crew up to now. In any case, profitable a championship would possibly now require profitable 19 — somewhat than 16 — video games. That doesn’t diminish the trophy. If something, it enhances it.

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“It’s troublesome to win the Stanley Cup and also you wish to win it the correct manner,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby advised TSN’s Darren Dreger earlier this month. “That’s 4 greatest four-out-of-seven collection’. That’s how we all know it.”

After all, life as we all know it’s completely different due to the coronavirus. Hockey is completely different too.

It’s not simply the post-season format. It’s every thing.

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We nonetheless don’t know the logistics for internet hosting the playoffs, however we do know that there gained’t be any followers within the constructing. The speak proper now’s of getting two hub cities — Las Vegas is reportedly within the front-running, together with Edmonton, Columbus, Nashville, Raleigh and St. Paul, Minnesota — host the video games, with gamers being quarantined of their lodges for as much as three months.

A 3-week coaching camp can be held earlier than then. However earlier than we get too far forward of ourselves, borders could have be re-opened, gamers must be flown again to North America and well being authorities must deem it secure for 23-man groups to be on the ice towards one another.

In different phrases, we’re a great distance from having a Stanley Cup awarded this yr. So many extra obstacles are mendacity within the path between at times. However at the very least the NHL and the NHLPA has a plan for once they get the inexperienced mild.

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“I simply wish to play, and I can do no matter format they resolve,” Winnipeg Jets ahead Patrik Laine mentioned throughout a Zoom name on Friday. “It’s nonetheless hockey. However I don’t thoughts the format. It’s not a difficulty for me.”

Hockey followers, who’ve spent the previous two months watching re-runs of previous Stanley Cup finals, most likely really feel the identical manner.

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