Following the statement released by the NHLPA last night, many news outlet are reporting that the Montreal Canadiens WILL be in the playoffs but the way I see it, they are jumping the gun a bit. Firstly, take a look at the actual statement:
At no point does this say, the playoffs are a go. All it says is that they are willing to carry on talking to work out the kinks and there are heck of a lot of kinks. Yes, it does mean that the 24 team format gets the players' thumbs up but there are still a number of concerns and issues to take care of. Remember that this only means that the League and the players' association agree on the format but they've yet to receive the OK from the powers that be and the health authorities. There are still plenty of travel restrictions imposed on most countries and before things can start up, they will need to find a way around that. Canada announced this week that its border with the USA would be shut until June 21st (President Trump then went on to say that he hoped they will open before then, but does anyone take him seriously anymore?). Even if the borders do open, will the players need to submit to a quarantine before they can get down to business with the start of the conditioning camps?
There's also the small matter of where the playoffs would be held. There's been a lot of talk about hub cities and just putting everyone in 2 or 4 cities for the duration but that has yet to be approved. The concerns voiced in the past by players who have a family remain and should the hub cities be in the USA, would Canadian teams ask their players to return to their home cities before taking them all to the hub city assign to them? Would that mean players who have to quarantine when they come back in to Canada and then again if the hub city is in the USA?
Let's be clear, last night's announcement was the smallest of baby step towards the League resuming its activities. We now know that should the NHL be able to start up again, it will jump into a 24 team play in format to determine who will take part in the actual playoffs. The top 4 teams would already be in and the others would likely play a best of 5 series to earn their place. So for now, league and players will carry on talking to work out all the détails and we should get a further announcement sometime in the future, maybe this week, that will explain the détails of how this could all work. If we are realistic though, there is no way we'll see the puck drop anytime soon. With so much details to iron out and the official go ahead still to be obtained from the authorities, nothing is likely to happen until July at the very earliest. Hang tight Habs fans, the wait is far from over...