It has felt like ages since we last saw our beloved Maple Leafs hit the ice. However we received some possible light at the end of the tunnel, as earlier this week we were updated with a return to play strategy agreed upon by the league and the NHLPA.
As part of the announcement, Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that the regular season is over and the top 24 teams based on winning percentages will enter a modified playoff format in which the teams will return to play for the Stanley Cup at two “hub” cities beginning later this summer.
This announcement was received with mix emotions, some were excited about a return to play where an eventual champion would be decided, while others saw it as a watered down idea reducing quality of play by rewarding certain teams even though they weren’t in the playoffs when the season was put on pause.
For me, my only concern has always been the health and well-being of the players, coaches, support staff, and so on. As the last thing we need is for anyone to get sick or worse from the resumption of play.
If the league, medical experts and local governments are able to come up with a plan to make this return to play safe for everyone, then I am going to support any playoff format the league put forth to resume play.
For those concerned that this is a cash grab, I have to remind you this is a profit driven league. No profits, no professional hockey.
As was reported earlier this spring, there is a significant television deal that needs to be considered, and the league can ill afford to lose any revenue.
We all know the salary cap is contingent on profits, no profits then you get a flat or worst case scenario reduced cap for next season.
Many teams are already pressed up against their caps, can you imagine the scenarios that would be discussed to get all the teams cap compliant again, if the cap needed to be clawed back because of lost revenue?
To be fair, there was never going to be a solution presented that would appease everyone. If there was ever a time to try something new, why not now? Why not do something different, and see how it plays out?
The game of hockey has been evolving over the last few years and this modified playoff format could provide for some exciting moments and storylines that could help to sell the sport to an even larger audience.
With all that said, this year’s playoffs may not be perfect, but really who cares. This is a time to have an open mind, Can you imagine being so lucky to be the fan cheering for the eventual winner? You have the gloating rights to say your team out lasted 24 other teams!
I don’t know about you, but that is something worth cheering for, so you can give me that asterisk any day. Here is hoping that eventual winner is our Maple Leafs! Wouldn’t that be exciting!