By: Andy Palm, Columnist
The world has been absolutely turned upside down, and the sports world is no different. The last NHL game was played on March 11, over a month ago.
The outlook as of right now in regard to being able to salvage the rest of the regular season is somewhat grim. There have been conversations about holding games in neutral locations without fans, but nothing concrete has been decided on yet.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, along with other players and NHL executives, have discussed a plan to resume play in July. In this scenario, the regular season would not be continued and they would go straight to the playoffs. It gets tricky as to which teams make the playoffs and who is left out. In one hypothetical set up, up to 24 teams would qualify for the postseason. Whatever it takes, being able to finish out the season in some type of fashion would be considered a success.
With the 2020 Summer Olympics being postponed, Bettman said to NBCSN it gives the league more flexibility. With NBC not being consumed by Olympic coverage, the ability to televise games is much easier. This makes resuming play in July much more plausible.
It gets complex when talking about playing through the summer. If play were to resume in July, some have speculated the playoffs wouldn’t conclude until late August-early September. So what would that mean for the 2020-2021 season that should begin in October? Well…let’s just worry about playing this season out for now.
Until anything real is put in place, we stay in this hockey-less world. Throughout this period where everyone is staying home, many players have become very active on social media and podcasts. Some have even voiced their opinion on the suspension of the season. The most recent player to comment has been Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
In a conference call with reporters, Doughty showed serious pessimism towards the idea of the season resuming. The 30-year-old Canadian said he has a really hard time seeing the season being played out, and even said he doesn’t think the playoffs would feel right even if they did come back.
“I know they so badly want to give out the Stanley Cup this year, but in all seriousness, it wouldn’t even be like winning a real Stanley Cup if the season wasn’t finished, if teams couldn’t get in the playoffs,” Doughty said. “I’m assuming they’d have to come up with a different playoff format, so it’d be a little different. I’m not a huge fan of it, as much as I want to play.”
Now, it should be stated that Doughty is on a team that wasn’t going anywhere, so his opinion of a playoff could be somewhat warped. As of now, Los Angeles is the second worst team in the Pacific Division with 64 points. Still; an interesting insight from a veteran player.
A lot of questions will need to be answered, and a lot of things will need organizing. Until then, we are left with watching reruns of old Stanley Cup games and watching highlights on YouTube.
In times like this, it’s important to realize all these precautions are being put in place for good reason. We’re saving the world, people. So stay home, grab a bag of chips, and look up Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid highlight videos.