The only thing you notice about the NHL return-to-play format that is currently being discussed is that it does not contain a meaningless game.
This is because the four best teams in each conference are still fighting for sowing, even if they receive a "goodbye" directly in the playoffs. The proposed format is for Boston, Tampa, Washington and Philadelphia to play against each other in the east, while St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas do so in the west. The results determine how these teams are ranked 1 to 1. 4 to start the first round.
It also ensures that these NHL heavyweights get something to play with while the other 16 teams compete in the best-of-five play-in series to determine their playoff opponents.
Before we go any further, it is important to emphasize that this format has not yet been finalized or approved. The NHLPA Board will discuss the proposed framework during a Thursday night call and will ultimately have to sign any plan that is implemented. And of course nothing happens without the blessing of the league.
If the vote is successful, details need to be worked out with the NHL. The players are voting on the format that @FriedgeHNIC reported last night: the four best teams per conference play against each other, while the other 16 participate in a round of matches.
– Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 22, 2020
However, both sides are represented on the Return To Play committee, which has considered what the NHL should look like if it can end the season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
You have reached a format with 24 teams and two conferences that could produce great theater, while the future Stanley Cup champion has to win at least 16 playoff games.
Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people all over the hockey world and tell the audience everything about what they heard and what they think about it.
Remarkable about the proposed format is that, like the NCAA tournament, it is put in parentheses – which reduces the sting somewhat if Boston or St. Louis didn't reach number 1 after running their respective conferences, as the The regular season was interrupted.
Each of the four best teams in the east or west could actually face the lowest remaining starting value after the warm-up round. For example, seed # 4 could compete against Montreal # 12 (in the event the Canadiens get upset about Pittsburgh # 5) while leaving seed # 1 with the winner of Toronto # 8 against # 8 would 9 columbus.
Sources say it was considered taking the regular season results and aggravating this kind of excitement – for example losing 1-0 to start his series or sweeping the penguins to continue – but there was no formula that was considered useful.
Perfect is currently not the goal of a decision by the NHL. Gary Bettman said there will be no foolproof solutions if his league navigates through this unusual landscape.
The considered return-to-play format includes six Canadian teams, five Original Six teams (the Canadiens, Blackhawks and Rangers would be excluded in a 20-team format) and anyone hoping to win a championship when the The 2019-20 season was stopped.
And absolutely every game played would have an impact on the hunt for the trophy.
In these circumstances it is difficult to get much better.