31 Thoughts: How a 24 NHL Team Playoff Structure Could Work


• An idea for a playoff structure of 24 teams
• How the guards remain vigilant during the arrest
• Possible discoloration of the NHL draft in June

“Nothing is set in stone,” said several sources. “Don’t assume anything about a potential playoff structure. “

But seriously, where is the fun in there?

The NHL / NHLPA Return to Play Committee met Tuesday and Wednesday. And, as Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving told Eric Francis of Sportsnet, a return-to-play format could be announced next week.

“There are no state secrets here,” said Treliving, “but I sense some momentum that next week there may be at least a preliminary plan in place to get where we’re going. “

The configuration of the 24 playoff teams is under discussion, although, as mentioned, there are no guarantees. This would eliminate controversy around the 16 team limit and give the NHL a bigger opportunity for regional television inventory. I am told that the magic number for many of these markets in the United States is 70. You want to play as many games on your regional network. It’s more of a challenge for teams like Pittsburgh, which rightly deserves a ton of domestic games.

There is some hindsight on the 24th. I have heard that some teams are upset that Chicago and Montreal come into play, especially if you have to deal with a Carey Price at rest during the first run. This also led to a debate on the format of the first series – the best two in three or the best three in five?

The best teams still don’t like the idea of ​​sitting while everyone below them has meaningful games. This is definitely a drawback. One idea that has been launched is a defined number of “regular season” games between these teams in their respective centers, but there is concern that it will “waste” time during such uncertainty.

Here’s an idea for a 24-team configuration that can address some of these concerns:

METROPOLITAN HUB: Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Caroline, Islanders, Columbus

ATLANTIC MEANS: Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Florida, Montreal, Rangers (added as Metropolitan’s lowest seeded seed – the Bruins are highest ranked in the East and should have this award in their center)

CENTRAL HUB: St. Louis, Colorado, Dallas, Winnipeg, Nashville, Chicago (Blackhawks stay in the center because the blues are the highest ranked in the west)

PACIFIC HUB: Vegas, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Arizona, Minnesota

The first round “becomes” a round robin of five games – with a handicap in the standings at the end of the break. On the basis of the percentage of points, the seeds could be given from 10 points (first) to 0 (sixth) at the start. If you think this is too much, maybe go from five points to zero. This way, each team that returns gets a minimum of five games.

The first four move on to the next round and decide whether we are dealing with the best of five or the best of seven.

It’s different and it’s unique. Is he good? I’m sure you will let me know.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people in the hockey world, then tell listeners what they heard and what they think.


1. We’ll come back to other NHL notes shortly, but we wanted to come up with something a little more edifying. There has been good coverage on ECHL players who have been laid off without their separation, and what could be done to help them. The Professional Hockey Players Association created a COVID-19 relief fund and sent out its first checks this past weekend. PHPA canceled its annual meeting, which saved $ 200,000. Among those who made a donation was Dion Phaneuf, Toronto General Manager Kyle Dubas and – something that was nice to see – several owners / managers of ECHL. Maine vice president Daniel Briere, Kansas City owner Lamar Hunt Jr. and South Carolina owner Todd Halloran were included. Halloran’s Stingrays raised $ 15,000 through the sale of jerseys, and added an additional $ 30,000. The guys from Spittin ’Chiclets also deserve a lot of credit.

The goal is to continue raising funds to match what these players have lost, and it’s a great start.

2. According to reports, Henrik Borgstrom, Florida’s first tour in 2016, will go to Europe instead of staying in North America. Here is the response from Borgstrom agent Markus Lehto: “Naturally, there are many top teams in all the best leagues in the euro who would really like to have it. The NHL season could continue and if that happens, Henrik is eager to help the Panthers win games. This is obviously if he is allowed to play after his injury in March. He trains hard in Helsinki with a few other NHL players. Too early to discuss next season. Clearly, the NHL is a top priority. “

3. Paul McFarland will end the season on the Toronto bench as an assistant coach before moving on to head OHL Kingston next season. There have been a ton of rumors that Sheldon Keefe’s longtime right-hand man, A.J. MacLean, will replace McFarland. It’s not a guarantee, and the Maple Leafs are looking outside for a long time.

4. I’m not sure either that the Maple Leafs are too eager to flirt with LTIR again. They knew they started last year without Travis Dermott and Zach Hyman. It was not an easy dance for them – or Vegas – last season.

5. Again, no guarantee, but if we go straight to the 24-team playoffs, the guys from the other seven teams in the league may have to go nine months without a game. One of them could be San Jose goalkeeper Martin Jones, who is back in North Vancouver.

“Obviously you want to play, and we don’t know for sure what’s going to happen,” Jones said Thursday. “But if you look at the past few seasons, I’ve never had time in summer to train longer. Being mentally tired is not something I like to admit. But a step back from the grind could be really good. I feel as motivated as I have had for a long time. “

It is important to have a positive attitude in these difficult times, and Jones sees how time off could help him and his team.

“It was a trying season for all of us. I’m excited to rest and work on my game. ”

6. Since Jones became the San Jose starter in 2015-16, he has led all goaltenders in minutes played (20,548) and appearances (353) – both in the regular season and in the playoffs. It’s strange to go from one intense program to another where your next game is so far, very far away. He has already started training on video with Sharks goalkeeper coach Evgeni Nabokov and his personal trainer Adam Francilia.

“If I don’t come back before November, I can have a week of rest here and a week of rest there. Adam is in Kelowna – I can go there for three or four weeks. There are many ways to keep your mind fresh. I don’t see myself getting on the ice until July. Four months of summer skating would be a difficult task. “

Will it be different when we see it next?

“I hope I will be stronger and faster. “

Pressed for more details, it was clear that he did not want to give much. Francilia’s expertise is biomechanics – this will be a priority.

“I just want to make sure I’m going the right way,” said Jones. “I don’t think you realize that, but things have accumulated over the years. When you start to look at it closely, it jumps out at you. “

7. Jones on the 2019-2020 Sharks: “When it started to spiral, we followed our own path instead of coming together. This is something that will be addressed in the future. “

8. Finally, Jones on the magnificent removal of Joe Thornton’s beard: “Quite shocking. But I covered it. I’m growing one now – although it’s probably not going to happen this season. “

He agrees with Jake Allen, who doesn’t understand how Braden Holtby can play with his beard under his mask.

9. Francilia, whose other clients include Thomas Greiss, Connor Hellebuyck and non-guards like Justin Schultz, now works with Matt Murray. They were introduced when Francilia visited Pittsburgh during the season. He didn’t want to go into detail about what they’re doing, so I tried it this way: will Penguins fans notice a difference when the game resumes?

“Yes,” replied Francilia. “Generally speaking, we identified certain structural shortcomings that did not allow him to create the position foundations that he should have. A few hiccups affected its biomechanics. “

He compared Murray to Hellebuyck in the sense that the two are “thinkers”.

ten. New AHL President Scott Howson was the guest for the 31 Pensées podcast this week. He said that an even more regionalized schedule is possible for everything that will happen in 2020-2021.

“Everyone is doing their best to make (our league) work next year,” he said. “We have a plan right now, and it has to be played from October 9 to April 18. Our regular schedule: 76 games… 68 for the Pacific Division teams. However, we are not naive – we know that we may not be able to play on October 9. “

So the league will model from November, December, January, etc., and how many teams are comfortable with each scenario.

“Then you add the additional factor of: is it viable for a team to play with a capacity of 50 or 35% based on social distancing? So there is a lot to think about. “

Howson said the league would wait until the end of August to make a decision in October.

11. Another interesting AHL wrinkle: what if certain teams that can play want to organize short tournaments for their prospects if the season can’t start? Howson said it had been discussed.

12. Howson appeared on the podcast a few minutes after Bernie Nicholls. They were teammates of the former OHL Kingston Canadiens in 1980-1981. Nicholls finished third in the league scoring (152 points), Howson sixth (140). Their coach was Jim Morrison, who has played 704 NHL games. At one point, Morrison lured them into his office and made a practical joke, telling them that they had been traded to Windsor.

According to Howson, Nicholls replied, “Who would you have?” The whole team? “

Richard Deitsch and Donnovan Bennett host a podcast on the impact of COVID-19 on sports around the world. They speak to experts, athletes and personalities, providing a window into the lives of the people we normally look for in entirely different ways.

13. I have no idea of ​​anyone winning a championship – be it Stanley Cup, NBA title or whatever – having an “asterisk” next to it because it didn’t happen in the regular playoffs. The world is in total chaos – there is a huge effect on everyone’s mental and financial health. Anyone who wins will be separated from their family for months. All this probably happens before a vaccine is put in place, so there is a real risk. Yes, it sounds incredibly easy.

14. Two weeks ago, when Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly sent out his memo advocating a June project, most of the reaction was, “We may not like this, but everything the league wants, it happens.

The note promised 30 days notice, so we slipped to June 5-6. The league may revert to its original date of June 26-27, but online. However, there is a growing feeling that the league office is withdrawing from this fight. When convened by the Board of Governors three days after the memo, it is estimated that about half of the teams said they were totally against doing so before the playoffs ended. Worse still, there weren’t many teams ready to fight to do it early.

One of the concerns of having it in the fall is that the sports calendar is suddenly stuck with the NFL, tennis majors, golf majors, major horse races, MLB, etc. But this argument does not hurt anyone.

15. I think some teams that would have been hit by the lottery did not like the idea of ​​Detroit being guaranteed a selection from the top two. It didn’t help either.

16. I’m really wondering about Montreal, the playoffs and the draft. Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher did not seem enthusiastic about playing. Would the Canadians want the playoffs, or a six percent shot on Alexis Lafrenière (according to last year’s odds)?

17. Sports IllustratedTom Verducci announced Thursday that the Major League Baseball has reached an agreement on COVID-19 testing. No league or group of players wants to be greedy by having access to tests which the most vulnerable or the public cannot access. MLB has entered into an agreement with a Utah-based laboratory that would provide testing for players and support staff, as well as thousands more for the general public.

Verducci wrote: “Under this plan, MLB would bring a net gain to public testing rather than drawing on existing resources. “

Mass testing is still a major problem in attempts to resume the season. Such a plan would appease NHL teams and like-minded players.

18. The cost of the tests will be significant. I get estimates at almost $ 100 per test. It shows how much these leagues want to play. You could make a real economic argument that it would be cheaper not to do it. Short-term pain for long-term gain.

19. There are many theories about the possibility of playoff lists of 30 players, including AHL call-ups.

20. Three Canadian cities – Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver – are likely to be legitimate hubs if their circumstances allow it. This could be summed up as quarantine. No one will pretend to give it up before the hour, but players will not spend two more weeks isolated from their families.

21. Players have a decision to make with their latest paychecks. These were due on April 15, but they chose to defer payment until May 15 (Friday) pending a decision on the amount they wished to keep / return. The deadline can be extended once more if they wish.

22. Last week, I finished Tanking to the Top, an excellent book on Sam Hinkie’s process with the NBA Philadelphia 76ers. Written by Yaron Weitzman, it provides a good overview of the thinking of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, who also owns the New Jersey Devils.

Basketball and hockey are not always comparable, but it’s hard not to see similarities between what happened with the 76ers and what could happen in Jersey. A section deals with the consequences of the 2012-2013 76ers season. They made a huge swap for the Lakers center Andrew Bynum, only to make him suffer from knee problems and not play. They missed the playoffs.

“Bynum’s miscalculation left the property disillusioned with the management of the franchise,” wrote Weitzman. “It didn’t matter that it was (owner Josh) Harris who was most excited about the deal, or whether he was the one who handed over the keys (then coach Doug Collins, then the basketball decision maker) ball). Embarrassed and emboldened, Harris slowly began to modernize the front office. “

A few sentences later, there is a line on how the property said to an MIT employee, “We like the way you speak our language. “

It’s hard to tell where the Devils are going with all of this, and Acting General Manager Tom Fitzgerald seems confident. But it will be interesting to see to what extent the culture of the 76ers is part of the Devils.

23. It might actually be a coincidence, but when John Tortorella was hired in Vancouver, John Stevens was very high on Mike Gillis’ list.

24. St. Louis goalkeeper Jake Allen was very interesting in a live # Ask31 talk of Tuukka Rask’s “emulation” before last year’s Stanley Cup final.

“Rask plays so differently from most goalies that we play in the West,” said Allen. “And he’s so good at it. There are so many little things…. The way he plays around his net on the poles – it’s so different from most goalies we play against. The way it stands, it looks like a lot of netting, but there isn’t…. Your perception is completely turned off when you look at it. (Goalkeeper trainer) Dave Alexander was filming me online and I would play like Rask. “Here is what he would do in this situation and here is what could be opened. »»

Was there a specific goal that you remember that helped?

Allen laughed and said, “I wish I could say it was the winning goal.”

But he didn’t remember.

25. A tweeter who watched Allen’s conversation asked for more information on “The Xtracker,” a device he and Jordan Binnington use in practice. (Alexander is one of its creators.) Here’s a video of it:

“It basically takes away your peripheral vision,” said Allen. “It puts your head on the puck…. Basically, it’s a great tool for keeping things neat, especially if you don’t play a lot. I really used it a lot last year in the playoffs, more than ever. “

Allen and Binnington also undergo training in virtual reality during the break.

“It synchronizes your eyes and your brain,” he says.

26. I have had a few agents and executives who have indicated that they believe that the wages of fourth-line players will be greatly reduced.

“A lot of minimum numbers, or almost,” said one.

27. Some business items to expect over the next few weeks outside of the playoffs / repechage. June 1 is the deadline for unsigned draft picks from 2018 (CHL) and 2016 (elsewhere) to enter into agreements with the clubs that have accepted them.

At some point, the NHL and the NHLPA will have to deal with the critical date calendar. Eligible offers must be submitted by July 1, but will be rejected. Signature bonuses are also due on July 1, except in the event of negotiation to delay certain parts of these payments. NCAA players may also become free agents on August 15 if they were drafted in 2016 and have yet to sign. One possibility is Cam Morrison of Notre Dame, selected in the second round by Colorado. The Avalanche must make a decision there. This date could stay the same as the potential playoffs would not affect it.

Lead writer Ryan Dixon and NHL editor Rory Boylen still give him 110%, but never trust podcasting clichés. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun and a diverse group of hockey voices to cover Canada’s most beloved game.

28. The Canadian Hockey League and professional players will be watching closely with the CFL and the Canadian government.

29. We all wonder how it will work the day that fans can enter the stadiums. Someone asked a great question, “What about the fans leaving the stadiums?” It will not be an easy process.

30. I thought about interviewing Dallas Eakins this week, but I’m bored with him for reintroducing burpees to the world. This exercise sucks.

31. Golf courses open in Ontario this weekend. I can’t wait to play, I can’t remember how angry this sport is.


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