Alexis Lafreniere’s New York Rangers debut frustratingly still on hold
As another day goes by it becomes less likely that the New York Rangers will start their delayed 2020-2021 season on January 1.
Though there has been no concrete report or evidence to substantiate the delay in starting the NHL season, the writing is on the wall. Players have yet to be called back to their home cities to begin quarantining prior to the start of training camp simply because the NHL and NHLPA have not had any formal discussions in over a week.
The two sides are now in the midst of another financial face-off, with the NHL asking the players to defer more money before they look at starting the season sometime next month. The players feel betrayed as they believed they had a firm deal intact after agreeing to a six-year CBA before the league’s Return to Play protocols kicked in last July.
Waiting To Hit The MSG Ice
Lost in the shuffle is the playing status of this year’s first overall selection by the Rangers, Alexis Lafreniere. The youngster, who is now experiencing the mistrust between the NHL and NHLPA, can only sit and wait to see how things will work out.
Lafreniere may get an opportunity to play some hockey soon. That’s if general manager Jeff Gorton allows the 19-year-old Saint-Eustache, Quebec, native to play in the upcoming World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Alberta.
The clock is ticking on that opportunity with a Dec. 6 deadline for all WJC rosters to be finalized. It has been well documented that the Rangers organization wants Lafreniere in training camp on the first possible day. They want the NHL to announce the opening day of training camp before making any decisions on sending him to play for Team Canada.
Long gap time since some have played
The time of the ice is concerning for every NHL team, but the Ranger’s lack of playing time may have higher implications. With only three games played since last March, head coach David Quinn has plenty of work ahead of him without knowing when training camp will open or how many games will construct the upcoming season.
The team has finalized its rebuild with the drafting of Lafreniere and at the same time saying farewell to D- Marc Staal, F -Jesper Fast, and the face of the franchise Henrik Lundqvist.
The club, which is is filled with high expectations, has to now play the wait and see game while the “negotiations” continue.
Still a lot for the NHL to work out
When and if the financial situation gets resolved, there is a huge list that all needs to be checked off before fans can get a taste of what the Blueshirts will bring to every game.
-Length of season
-A plan should a when a player or team has wide spread Covid spread
-Potential playoff bubble
-Safety Protcols in camp and in season
-Where will games be played if home arena unavailable due to pandemic
-Travel, hubs, or blocks of play
-How and when will players see family members
-Will players be required to take vaccine once available
-Testing, testing, testing
All of the above and probably much more will have to addressed and agreed before Lafreniere or any Rangers player or coach enters a locker room.
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