Holy Smokes Bettman! NHL Announces Return to Play Plan

Good morning hockey fans! My apologies on the delay of this article. This announcement in particular was a lot to digest and process. It certainly confused hockey writers, analysts, and fans alike. On Tuesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman officially announced the NHL’s return to play format as well as how the draft lottery will work. First of all, I’m going to attach the video with Gary Bettman’s announcement for you in case you need to digest it and the implications again. The video features slides that breaks down how returning to play and the draft lottery are going to work. Secondly, I’m including from the New Jersey Devils a breakdown of how the NHL Draft Lottery will work. This article gives an example of what could happen to traded draft picks that had conditions on them. For example, the article details what may happen with the New Jersey Devils as they traded Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes and the conditional draft pick(s) they acquired. Lastly, I’m including tweets from various expert reporters in the hockey world and will share my reactions to their tweets and my overall reaction.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announcement video:

NHL Draft Lottery Explanation

Tweets from respected hockey media & my reactions to them:

We pretty much knew this was going to happen. It makes no sense to bring back teams who are already out of the playoff race to come back and play for nothing. It will be interesting to see which hub cities are selected. Pierre’s tweet has me wondering what the selection process and criteria will be. Will the NHL try to have each conference in separate or same time zones? The main factor in choosing these cities in my opinion should be based upon each city having a low amount of Corona-virus cases. The lower the number of cases the better for all involved.
This is absolutely the CORRECT move and doesn’t mess with the draft format more than it already has been! It doesn’t make sense to have a draft before games resume. First of all, it goes against the competitive balance philosophy that the league claims it has . How would it be fair to do a draft when not all the draft positions have been officially settled upon yet? Lastly, having the draft before the season officially ends severely impacts General Managers from making trades to better help improve their teams. Simply put, just wait till this season is over with, then draft!
Leaving this one up to the NHL, NHLPA, & players return to play committee. However, as I said previously, it’s best to pick cities that have low amounts of corona-virus cases. The players safety and health is the most important thing to consider above anything else! Otherwise, then the league should cease and desist of trying to do this until it is ABSOLUTELY safe to have a season.
This tweet by Pierre got me thinking about old time playoff formats. To me, this is a great opportunity to reinstall what the playoff format used to be which was based on seeding and reseeding after every round. It makes the playoffs more exciting and match ups are more fair heading into the conference finals. For example, the LA Kings being the 8th seed in 2012 going onto win the Stanley Cup is an example of why I think this playoff format needs to return. Also, from what I’m hearing this is what the players really want. I agree with them and think that this should be apart of the upcoming CBA negotiations.
The draft lottery…which is where things get really complicated here!
Pretty much, the way I understand this tweet is the draft lottery is being handled in one and possibly two phases. Draft positioning depends on how the play into the Stanley Cup playoff round works out. I just hope this system works and gets the correct draft positioning right. You don’t want to see teams who are already stacked and loaded get more highly skilled players unfairly. Don’t see how it would be fair if say the Pittsburgh Penguins lose in the qualifying round and improve their chances at say getting consensus number one overall pick Alexis Lafreniere.
The way I viewed Pierre’s tweet and the whole 24 teams thing is that this gives teams who were in the playoff hunt a chance to make the field of 16 teams. It doesn’t go against the traditional 16 team Stanley Cup playoffs field. However, I’m not a big fan of this still. In my opinion, I just would have went with the eight teams in each conference who were in playoff spots at the time of when the season paused. My reasoning is this, having less teams and personnel around helps keep the spread of the virus down. I know that sucks for teams who were in the hunt but, not everything is sunshine and rainbows or works out the way you hoped.
Glad this question was asked and a very fair one at that! Thanks Ryan for asking this question and Pierre for retweeting it! What you don’t want from this process is to heavily favor certain teams. Fans would become highly upset and would notice any sort of unfair competitive advantage. All teams should have to go through the same process as everybody else, plain and simple!
Not the way hockey season normally starts, but then again nothing is normal these days! Amanda Stein’s tweet makes me think and reminds me of how crazy this corona-virus has gotten. Never in a million years would I have ever thought that an NHL season could start in January. I just don’t know how this is all going to work out. I know the players want to go to the upcoming Winter Olympics but, they may have to reconsider here on this one. It’d be an awful lot of hockey to play. Not to mention, this is going to take a lot of planing to try and figure this whole thing out.
This should be interesting! Hopefully there aren’t any other global pandemics in the near future that will make the league have to re-evaluate things even further. As I was listening to the league’s conference call with the media, there was one point that was brought up and I think the league should implement this for teams with long layoffs. The teams that have been out for so long should get an early start on training camp compared to those who won’t be off as long. They need more time to get ready and prepare for the upcoming season whenever that is. Seems fair to me in my opinion at least.
COVID-19 testing is an absolute must! You absolutely CANNOT play the games unless we know if the players are healthy or not.
This to me is one of the craziest parts about all of this. I want hockey back but, not at the cost of impacting others and from getting their test results. It just doesn’t seem fair to me. As long as this doesn’t impact everyday people from getting a test I’m OK with this. If this is going to impact that, I certainly am NOT OK with this. We all want hockey back, but at what price? At some point, the cost can be too much and sometimes you have to sell the idea instead of buying it.
It will be very interesting to see what happens with this decision from the Canadian government. Looks like host cities will need to be in the US as of now. Unless Canada relaxes on this restriction, it won’t work to have a hub city be in a Canadian city which would be a shame. We all have to wait and see what happens in the next 3-4 weeks when the NHL makes it’s decision on which two hub cities will be used.
I find this information from the medical experts to be very curious. I wasn’t expecting this answer to be perfectly honest. Then again, they know better than us non-medical experts. However, the playoff rosters MUST be expanded to have enough players to fill in if a players contracts the virus. Not sure how this will work as this could potentially lead to the NHL “pausing” again or even ending the season. This tweet will validate the feelings for those who are against the season starting back up.
This tweet in particular from Ted Starkey is very interesting! In my opinion, as much as I love professional sports to me I wouldn’t consider athletes “essential employees”. Doctors, nurses, scientists, grocery store workers, package delivery, and child care are the most essential. If that’s the case, then why was the league shut down for so long? Shouldn’t they have already been essential already? Daly’s statement is very confusing to me and just don’t understand the logic behind it.

Overall Reaction:

This was a crazy and interesting day for anyone who follows hockey to say the least! The information Commissioner Bettman relayed to the hockey world was certainly overwhelming and confusing. I personally am trying to still wrap my head around all of this. For those who are for and want hockey back, this is definitely a positive step in the right direction. I’m just hoping that this can all be done safely and doesn’t impact anybody’s health long-term or worse. For those who think the season should just be over with, this was not a good day for you. I get, understand, and won’t invalidate your opinions, reasons and feelings for why the season should be canceled. Your points for ending the season are very valid. However, the reality is that the finish to the 2019-2020 NHL season is on the way. As I’ve said before, we just have to continue to wait and see what happens and see how this all plays out. It’s an ever changing situation, and currently we’re all along for the ride. Hopefully we can get back to hockey in a safe manner soon and drop the puck again!

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