The National Hockey League is at the mercy of healthcare authorities to give the green light for the league to return to play.
According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the league still is brainstorming scenarios that play a full 82-game schedule, but that number has been cut down to 76-78 games in most plans. Additionally, there is an interesting, but popular playoff scenario in case they aren’t able to finish some type of regular season.
Essentially, there would be four NHL playoff “tournaments,” where the best six teams from each division are put into a bracket. A best-of-three series between the No. 1 and 2 seeds determine the winner of the division. The No. 3 team is matched against 6 and the No. 4 faces No. 5.
So the league’s first-place Boston Bruins would play the Tampa Bay Lightening for the Atlantic Division, while the New York Rangers would be omitted from the postseason, just one point back from the Islanders in the Metropolitan despite having played more games.
Spector’s sources said in terms of essential NHL personnel allowed at these games, players and rink staff must be quarantined in hotels away from their families. As far as media, the closer someone is allowed to players, the stricter their own quarantine restrictions are.
And if a player has to leave “the bubble,” for any reason, he’d have to sit out for two weeks in quarantine before playing again.
The NHL paused back on March 12, but it appears the league is eager to salvage some type of season. Even if it means starting the 2020-21 one in December.