Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin faced intense rivalry throughout their careers.
But the generation superstars are on the same side when it comes to how they prefer the NHL to end the season on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, if possible.
"I mean, you're trying to play as many games as possible, but I wouldn't mind starting straight into the playoffs," said Crosby on Thursday.
"The more games we play, the better it will be for our fans and for the teams fighting for the playoffs, but I'd rather start the playoffs right away," said Ovechkin. "Sorry guys."
The NHL had 189 regular season games on its schedule when it paused on March 12, including 13 each for Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins and Ovechkins Washington Capitals.
Given that players are currently witnessing a phase of self-quarantine on two continents and the corona virus is still spreading rapidly, it remains to be seen whether any of these games or the Stanley Cup playoffs will be played at all.
Behind closed doors between the league and the NHL Players’s Association, much has been discussed about what the return-to-play scenarios might look like, depending on when the resumption is safe.
The longer it takes, the less likely it is that regular season games will be saved. The league's main focus is on finding a way to award the Stanley Cup without compromising its ability to keep a full 82-game schedule next season.
Since their teams were comfortably in the playoffs after the sudden interruption of the 2019-20 season, it's no wonder that Crosby and Ovechkin prefer to jump straight into the postseason. This would be a difficult result for teams like the New York Islanders and New York Rangers – one and two points behind the wildcard position in the Eastern Conference – if the playoff field weren't expanded to give them a well-deserved lifeline.
"You want to play as many games as possible to reach your true tournament," said Rangers defender Marc Staal, among those who spoke at the NHL-NHLPA conference call on Thursday.
"Whether it's a few more teams in or [holding] a play-in [round] or one of the things in [Rangers team] group chat that is speculated about … I think we'll cross the bridge when we come to it. "
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The league is in a race against time.
Players can only skate and train in small groups again when the spread of COVID-19 shows signs of flatlining. There must also be some kind of training camp before the games can be played again.
The NHL appears to be ready to continue its season into the summer after asking the teams to submit available construction dates in July and August. However, there are some debates among players about the merits of this idea.
"You have to think about the health and safety of our star players," said Nick Foligno, captain of Columbus Blue Jackets. "If you play so many games a year and now we're going to try to get it into this late summer and then possibly a few months later into another season and then back into the off-season for some people." That's a lot of games in a year we're not used to.
"I'm not saying that boys can't find a way to do this because we hockey players will find a way, but you have to think about the longevity of boys' careers and their health."
If the NHL can be resumed, it will be impossible to make everyone happy.
There has been some discussion as to whether a 24-team, play-in-round playoff tournament could possibly be held to at least include those fighting for places when the season ended, but there is no guarantee for the fact that this will be possible in the future.
Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world and tell the audience everything about what they heard and what they think about it.
Claude Giroux's Philadelphia Flyers were the hottest team in ice hockey when the season was interrupted. They drove a 9-1-0 series to move within one point of Washington for the Metropolitan Division's leadership.
He wouldn't mind continuing with the regular season.
"It would be good if I thought I could get some games before the playoffs, especially for teams fighting for a place in," said Giroux. "You want to give everyone a fair chance, I would say. Whatever is the fairest, I think everyone would somehow accept that."