Of the three avenues the National Hockey League is exploring to maintain its delayed 2020 draft, one is head and shoulders above the other as the most intriguing – and, depending on your team of choice, maddening or promising.
The typical arena gala, originally scheduled for June 26-17 at the Bell Center in Montreal, is becoming more and more like a kind of pandemic dream.
A virtual project, like the one the NFL will launch next week, is the safest route and would put as much pressure on the IT manager of each franchise as its general manager. As was the case with Saturday Night Live at Home or this haste Tiger King & I special, we will surely listen out of curiosity, but the big moments will be impossible to land with the same punch.
This is the third option in the NHL – a compromise between stadium status and FaceTime with Pierre Dorion! – it piqued our interest. Especially because there is a chance that hockey can send him back to the Sidney Crosby competition.
“We are certainly studying options on the project. Are we going to do the project virtually? Are we going to end up writing the draft like in Ottawa in 2005? Steve Mayer, NHL content manager, told Sportsnet.
“This one came out of a lockout and was a small project. We keep our options open and we are absolutely planning this break because we need to be immediately ready when we get there. We need to activate as quickly as possible. “
A quick reminder of the unique circumstances of 2005, these lucky Pittsburgh Penguins won a “fucking lottery” in the summer.
Due to a labor dispute that wiped out the 2004-05 campaign, the 2005 project, scheduled to take place in June at the Corel Center, was postponed to July 30. Since the Senators’ ice rink could not be used in the short term, the Draft was instead held at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa and was closed to the public for the first time since 1980. (To make a good impression, the league awarded the 2008 draft to the Senators. If the Canadians fail to present the draft on a large scale this year, they too should be compensated with an opportunity in the near future.)
Only the 20 highest ranked prospects attended in person.
Two recent infallible first recruits, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, examine the effect a discreet draft day would have on Alexis Lafrenière’s No. 1 project and the rest of the 2020 class.
“In fact, I was joking with my friends, they are lucky not to have to do the Combine, but they will obviously miss a lot. It’s such a special experience – even the combine is as difficult as some of these bike tests, “says McDavid.
“There are a lot of people who are missing a lot right now. We all have to do our part, and unfortunately they may have to give up their project experience, but the important thing is the project and the writing. “
In his 40s from Arizona, Matthews thinks back to the scene from his “incredible” night in 2016.
“To hear your name called and go up there, take your swimsuit, it’s all extremely surreal. It’s an experience you dream of as a child, “says Matthews, thinking of the best prospects for 2020.” If it doesn’t, it’s going to be difficult, of course. I think in the long run they are going to be great players in this league, and I hope they have more memories and experiences to cherish. “
The Senators and Detroit Red Wings cherish the next draft, two clubs that have deliberately tanked 2019-20 to increase their chances of winning one of the potential franchise attackers at the top of the class. If the NHL ends this season on hold, as Commissioner Gary Bettman hopes, Sens (25%) and the Wings (18.5%) have the best chance of winning Lafrenière.
But if today’s playoff clubs are not given a shot at the Stanley Cup and all of the fans’ interests and gate revenues associated with a post-season run, they should certainly also put bales in the hopper.
Again, 2005 provides a model from which to work.
Instead of sticking to the most recent rankings, from 2003-2004, which already rewarded basement dwellers like Pittsburgh, Chicago and Washington in the 2004 draft, the 2005 lottery odds were then weighted by based on the number of playoff appearances in the previous three seasons and the number of top picks in total in the previous four versions.
Four teams (Sabers, Blue Jackets, Rangers and Penguins) received three balls, 10 teams received two balls and the remaining 16 received one ball each, for a total of 48.
The three-ball teams had 6.3% success at Crosby, the two-ball teams had 4.2% chances and the rest of the peloton 2.1%.
To further level the playing field, the league has also implemented a fantasy style snake project, which means that the club that chose the last one in round 1 was first on the podium in round 2.
Of course, a reconstruction organization like Ottawa, which has made a series of construction-based decisions through this lottery, may have a bone to choose from.
“We want to make sure we have a voice in this area,” GM Dorion said on a conference call Tuesday. “Our hockey operations group has worked very hard to make three different types of proposals for regular season playoffs, playoffs and the draw – all of which are linked to hockey staff decisions.”
“I think our game is in good hands with Gary Bettman. I think the integrity of the regular season, the playoffs, the Stanley Cup award and the draw will all be well decided and with great integrity. “
Hiding in the shadows of the proposed lottery situation regarding the unstable 2020 season is the potential (hope?) For a new collective agreement to come out of this mess.
Any format change would require player approval, and the parties worked amicably in the midst of this crisis.
“It’s really unique in this period of time – the cooperation between the NHLPA, the teams, the players and the league,” said Mayer.
After tweaking the 2005 lottery, Bettman explained the format at the time in response to “a unique circumstance … also taking into account that no one knows exactly what the new world will look like. “
“Half of the league probably wanted everyone to have an equal chance, and the other half wanted all teams that hadn’t made it to the playoffs to have the only chances – weighted or unweighted. And if you look at the statistical chances of the two scenarios, what we did is in the middle, “said Bettman 15 years ago.
“No one was particularly pleased, but everyone understood that, overall, it was probably the fairest way to approach it.”