The St. Louis Blues likely have someone in the loop with the NHL and their plans. We better hope they do or else they might get caught with their pants down regarding a restart.
The St. Louis Blues are like so many other professional sports franchises during this pandemic. They are wondering if or when their league, or any league, might figure out a way to restart their season.
However, things seem to change on a daily basis. While every sport seems to have a shift in tone or plan based on reports, the NHL seems to be changing their mind almost as fast as Vince McMahon does.
If you don’t know who that is, don’t concern yourself with it. Wrestling fans will get the reference just fine.
Nevertheless, there is a new report saying the NHL has shifted with the wind again. I hesitate to call this news, since only one person seems to be discussing it, but I’m just putting it out there for people to make of it what they will.
Larry Brooks, who is a longtime hockey writer, put out a column recently for the New York Post. In it, he made the claim that the NHL is shifting back toward an immediate playoff, this time including 24 teams.
I have no reason to doubt Brooks, or his sources, since he has been in the business long enough to know he shouldn’t put out information that is completely untrue. However, given we do not know the sources, we do not know how close to the situation they are or whether this is just one of many options continually being investigated.
For several reasons, I doubt this report and also hope it is not true.
First, the NHL seemed so intent on finding a way to finish their regular season. Whether we think that’s a good idea or not, there has rarely been a comment made by Gary Bettman that did not include the hope of finishing the season before a playoff began.
It seems odd that the league would suddenly think that was a bad idea. The point brought up in Brooks’ article of teams clearly outside the playoff bubble is something myself and plenty of others have discussed in the past. Why would this just now become an issue for the league?
I fully understand the idea of players not wanting to be away from their families, but it seems oddly coincidental that all sports seem to have abandoned the idea of centralized locations concurrently. Just as steam was gaining for the idea of a handful of hub cities, now the league is throwing that in the trash and going back to the playoff idea? I have plenty of doubts about that.
Also, I’ve never been in favor of a largely expanded playoff, such as this 24-team format suggested. Teams like Chicago or Anaheim have no business having an opportunity playing for the Stanley Cup, and that opinion has nothing to do with the Blues/Blackhawks rivalry.
Teams hovering around .500 made the playoffs plenty of times in the late-1980’s and into 1990’s. There were fewer teams then and even then, there were lots of arguments against those kinds of teams making the playoffs. If you’re going to have “play-in” series, keep it limited to a couple teams that were right around the playoff bubble for real, not just arbitrary numbers to get more games on TV.
If this decision would be simply to put more emphasis on keeping the NHL Draft in June, I would be against it as well. I grow tired of this notion pushing the draft off would condense the offseason far too much.
No matter what they attempt, having the draft in June is going to mess things up. You cannot have any trades involving players when those players will still be involved in some playoff format for months afterward.
Playing in hub cities, while uncomfortable for players not wanting to be away from their families, alleviates the problem of travel. You can play games more closely together, i.e. back to back or one day off between when you remove the rigors of travel.
Ultimately, if there is any truth to this report, it just goes to show that nothing has been decided and no report is apparently true when they say the league is solidifying behind this idea or that. The entire world is in a fluid situation, but eventually you have a to pick a path and deal with things.
The NHL shouldn’t need as much negotiation as MLB. The vast majority of their season was played, so negotiating pay should not really come into play as much.
Still, there seems to be no consensus for anyone. Every source spoken to has their own feelings and own things to report.
While I have long sided with the section of fandom that said the NHL was in no rush to make a decision. They do still have time, but the constant conflicting rumors or reports is getting a little aggravating.
As always, time will tell which, if any, of these plans comes to fruition.