Excitement is definitely building amongst hockey fans as the league inches closer to starting back up in what has the potential to be a fun and wacky ride.
Teams are getting their ducks in a row and making arrangements for players to get back into the groove of things.
According to CBS12 half the boys are back in South Florida and preparing for small group training that will kick off in early June - hey, that's right around the corner!
With two months to prepare and a short series ahead (if they want to keep going), there really isn't any room for error. The Cats will have to be on point and Tallon drove that home via a Zoom conference call with the media:
“There will be no secrets. The Islanders are very well-coached, very well-prepared. They play their best every shift. They’re disciplined so we can’t get frustrated with them. We just have to be patient, compete and not have any bad sequences.”
He's not wrong. The Islanders have the Cats' number this season, besting Florida in all three games the two teams have clashed.
Rats said this in the last blog:
"There will be expanded rosters when they start up. I think Tippett, if back from his wrist injury, and Borgstrom will certainly be included. I heard Tallon dropped Brady Keeper's name as a possibility. They'll have to carry 3 goalies, so Monty will be there. That leaves two spots to fill (if roster limit is 28)."
I've seen a little bit about this. I think it's a good call by the league.
Couple of other notes from Return-to-Play protocol: Two exhibition games per team; 28 skaters and as many goalies as you wish to carry.
"The NHL normally allows a maximum of 23 total players to be carried on a roster during the regular season for salary cap purposes. Expanding to 28 skaters is somewhat similar to a "Black Ace" situation, but could allow for more competition (or more rest) during practices or between games and give coaches a chance to experiment with forward line or defense pairing combinations."
"Exhibition games before the start of the round robin of qualifying round makes lots of sense too, considering you are taking players from their couches to high-leverage play on the ice in a matter of weeks.
All of these are still details that need to be ironed out between the NHL and the NHLPA and could still change. Regardless, it's a step in the right direction in getting players back on the ice and a Stanley Cup champion crowned."
Rats also mentioned hearing Tippett and Keepr's names thrown around a bit. I'm down - especially for the latter. I've seen some teams already announce they've added top prospects to their rosters in anticipation oof the forthcoming frenzy.
Having depth is key in a regular playoff format, I think it will be even more crucial in this new format - especially when you factor in the condensed timeline of guys/teams having to get back into game form/shape, the fast and furious playoff schedule, etc., etc...
I have to agree with Tyler (the Blackhawks writer) that it's pretty cool the NHL has led the charge in terms of the major pro sports for getting back into action. It wasn't too long ago that the NHL was the "little brother" to the other leagues. Now they're setting the tone in this situation.
Curious how it will all come together!
A Little Jersey History
The Hockey Guy came put a little jersey history video together for the Panthers. Not bad. He doesn't mention it in this, and you can call me crazy, but I always liked how it seemed the leaping cat logo got a little crisper and the color changed slightly as the years went on.