As progress made on 24 Team NHL Playoffs, detractors face backlash

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NHL could start now in January (Mark Humphrey/CP/AP)

According to insider Pierre LeBrun both the NHL and NHLPA have made significant progress in a return to play plan. As hockey works its way back, in all likelihood the scenario will be the often talked about 24 team option. Still, there are several voices mocking the idea and saying it hurts the “integrity” of the game. Those voices are meeting increasing backlash by many of their colleagues and you can expect this to become the next big debate once plans are finalized.

Spare us your indignation

Apparently the idea of a 24 team playoffs, whether there are byes for the top teams or a round robin to determine who gets into the round of 16, some journalists and analysts think it’s absurd. Some feel a 20 team playoff makes more sense or just taking 16 will help preserve the “integrity” of the game. Well, those voices were met by many with a real difference of opinion.

Bettman (Sandford/Getty Images)

Starting with Larry Brooks this weekend who wrote an entire column on the subject. Of course, Brooks makes sure to take his shots at the NHL as well, he opens with this gem.

Not much draws a belly laugh these days, which is why I am so thankful to hear from the folks who are flipping out over a hypothetical 24-team Stanley Cup playoff because such a tournament might be lacking in the integrity department Remind me where these fine, upstanding, guardians of the hockey galaxy were in 2018 — when the teams with the two best overall records in the NHL, Nashville and Winnipeg, met in the second round of the playoffs?

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It didn’t stop there either, former Rangers goalie and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes took to Twitter to unload on naysayers. He started by saying, “[I] Often hear the following Ice too icy. Zamoboni water is too wet.
Puck is too dark. Goalies too big. Blue lines are too blue. Too many teams in Playoffs. Not enough teams in Playoffs. Big markets too big. Small markets too small…” By the time he was through, he told those same folks to come with solutions or just zip it.

As for me, I try hard to stay out of the mud, but those blue checkmark account bitching about the NHL coming back with a 24 team playoff need to rethink their positions. Over 300000 people have died worldwide to this pandemic with millions unemployed. Unprecedented ideas are needed in unprecedented times.

Return to Play and Draft Decisions

The NHL has apparently narrowed down it’s hub cities to a list of 8 and are expected to announce it to 4 this week. From what I’ve heard from a league source, Arizona for the Pacific, Dallas for the Central, Carolina for the Metro, and Toronto for the Atlantic are the leads to land it. I’ve also heard that teams are talking with players and prospects about returning to designated training facilities by the end of this month. 

The appetite to move forward with the NHL Draft in June appears to be waning. While the NHL and a handful of teams like the Rangers and Ottawa are ready to move forward with it, the overall desire from most other NHL teams is simply not there. Insider, Bob McKenzie was on OverDrive recently and characterized the possibility of moving forward with an NHL Draft in June as “on life support”. Of course, he did say, that while that may be the case, it can’t be ruled out.

The good news in all of this is that we may actually get some real news. It’s been 2 months of speculation and it would be great to have some decisions made and a real plan to return in place.

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