Cole: Avs have legitimate chance at Stanley Cup if play resumes
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Wondering what everyone thinks of the NHL’s apparent plan to resume play with a 24-team playoff format to include teams that were within striking distance of a postseason berth when the league hit the pause button March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nothing official yet, but NHL Players Association executive board members were reported to have begun voting on the proposal Thursday night.
I have mixed feelings about skipping the rest of the regular season, but expanding the field with a mini-tournament to determine seeding for 16 teams could be pretty entertaining. Teams without a hope of getting into playoffs wouldn’t be included.
“Whatever gets us back and playing, I’m 100 percent for,” Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole told the Denver Post. “Whether that’s 16 teams, 24 teams, 30 teams, 31 teams … whatever gets us back and playing, I’m 100 percent on board with.”
The top four teams in the Western and the Eastern Conferences, based on points percentages, would play three games against each other within their conference to determine the top four seeds.
The Avalanche trailed St. Louis by two points with a game in hand for first place in the West and Central Division when league play was suspended.
“I like competing for that top spot in the conference,” Cole told the newspaper. “If we are able to do that, that’s something we’d like to do. You only have so many opportunities to be on a really great team that has a very legitimate chance, and I view us as a team that has a very legitimate chance to win a Stanley Cup.”
Teams ranked fifth through 12th in each conference would play a best-of-five playoff round: Nos. 5 vs. Nos. 12, Nos. 6 vs. Nos. 11, etc. The teams that advance from that round would play the top four seeds in best-of-seven series; the remaining rounds also would be best-of-seven leading to awarding the Stanley Cup.
"We'd like to complete this season," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a digital interview with Leaders Week, a sports business conference. "We'd like to award the Stanley Cup, the most treasured trophy and the most historic trophy in all of sports. And our fans are telling us overwhelmingly that's what they'd like us to do, because people have an emotional investment in this season already."
Details still need to be hammered out, but it’s possible players could begin workouts in small groups at their respective team facilities before starting a two- or three-week training camp in late June or early July.
That would allow play to resume in late July and continue in August and September, resulting in a later start to the 2020-21 season.
Of course, a lot of things have to happen first, the most significant being clearing by the medical community that the pandemic has passed, along with testing of players and staff members.
Players are scattered around the world, further complicating matters.
A number of cities in the U.S, and Canada have been mentioned as possible sites for games and practices, which would be held without fans.
Not sure how any of this would be covered by the media, other than the games would be televised.