Blackhawks "make" the playoffs
Hey, look at that, the Blackhawks are a "playoff team"… well kind of.
Note the quotation marks surrounding playoff team.
The official Phase 2 has been confirmed by Gary Bettman and the NHL and it has the Hawks as the 12th seed in the West playing the Edmonton Oilers, who are the 5th seed.
The Chicago Blackhawks have released the following statement from Interim President Danny Wirtz:
"We are excited that the Chicago Blackhawks will be among the teams that will compete for the Stanley Cup, per the National Hockey League's Return to Play Plan announced today. That alone is great for our fans, the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. We are also proud that Chicago, including our home arena the United Center, is being considered as one of the two possible hub cities as part of the league's plan.
Moving forward, we will stay in close communication with the NHL, the City of Chicago and state leaders to ensure safety protocols for our players and staff are met. We anticipate a controlled conditioning phase followed by a formal training camp."
(Courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks)
Now, there is a lot to take in around this new 24-team format, the host cities, as well as the draft that was included in the update from the Commissioner on Tuesday.
Before I get into it all, I want to continue to share my stance on how cautious I'm being as I temper my own expectations as a hockey fan.
Do I think this 24-team format will come to fruition? It sure sounds like the NHL is determined to push through, yes.
Am I still concerned about how this is all going to play out for everyone's health and safety? Sure am.
I want nothing more than for hockey to be back, along with the rest of the world but there is a lot left to be determined before I get too excited.
Devan Dubnyk, a member of the NHL Players' Association's 31-player executive board had some realistic views of the current situation when he chatted to The Athletic on May 25th:
"We still have a long way to go."
Dubnyk doesn't want to be a buzzkill, but he thinks it's important for everyone to understand there are still lots of hurdles ahead as both sides try to navigate the murky waters of return to play in the midst of a global pandemic.
"We voted strictly on the format," Dubnyk said. "In other words, 'If we are to come back, this is how it's going to be played.' But we have not even touched on logistics or cities or travel or testing or how the economics will work or what this quarantine bubble (the players are) supposed to live in will be like or any of that stuff yet.
"Nothing else has been voted on … yet."
(Courtesy of The Athletic)
Ok, now putting on my super optimistic hat because, as I stated above, I do want hockey back. I have been enjoying watching 2010 Blackhawks playoffs games, but I'm ready for live-action.
So, below I have some thoughts and further notes on the situation:
* Here is a look at the Western Conference Playoff Picture - outlined by the NHL Return to Play Plan.
The TOP 4 seeds in each conference will play a Round Robin tournament to decide seeding.
* Elliotte Friedman reported Tuesday that every team in this 24-team structure will have 2 exhibition games.
* There will be an expanded roster of 28-skaters per organization which no limit on the number of goalies included.
* Ian Mitchell and other players who have signed contracts after their seasons have concluded (ie. NCAA, CHL, KHL) will not be permitted to play in this 24-team return to play format at this time. There could be an option to revisit that but the NHLPA and NHL will have to work that out.
* Chicago is in the mix to be a host city as per Bettman. The others?
* Draft Lottery… this one is a confusing one, so I'll just leave it to Bob McKenzie to explain:
Click on that and read his thread.
Once I get a better handle on it, I'll give you my thoughts.
* Lastly, I didn't mention this yet, but a little bit of Blackhawks news, Alexis Gravel and Wouter Peeters will not be offered contracts by Chicago. I'm really surprised that Gravel is not being qualified.
My assumption is that the Hawks are happy with what they have in the system with Delia, Lankinen, and Tomkins.
Obviously, either Crawford or another starter will be signed, but this could be a sign that the Hawks are planning to bring Ivan Nalimov back over to Rockford and/or are looking to re-sign Malcolm Subban.
As I mentioned above, there is still a lot to figure out but actual hockey could be returning as soon as July it looks like.
What are your thoughts on everything?
Stay safe and see ya out there!