Why the NHL Became The First Sport To Officially Return
In business, people use football analogies to equate where they are with making a deal. The MLB right now is still on their side of the field. No side is moving the ball, and they’re arguing about the spot. NBA is almost in the red zone. They sound closer and closer to announcing something for the league. NHL is on the one-yard line. We could have an announcement today or next Tuesday about hockey returning in early July. How did the NHL become the sport to be the first and get a sudden surge of potential popularity.
NHL does not have the issue of the NBA with the 70 games. For the NHL, they can launch into playoffs immediately. They’re doing just that, and for fairness and attention, they’re making 24 teams. The 24-team plan is to ensure no one gets left out, but it also means teams like the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Montreal Canadians will play in these games. All three teams do big numbers for hockey’s ratings. The idea of the 24-team playoff is well thought out and makes a great deal of sense. Here’s how each conference breaks out.
Eastern Conference: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers will have all have byes and play a round-robin against each other. Playoff matchups will begin Pittsburgh-Montreal, Carolina-New York Rangers, New York Islanders-Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs-Columbus Blue Jackets. They’re three-game series to begin.
Western Conference: St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars will all have byes and play a round-robin against each other. The playoff matchups are Edmonton Oilers-Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators-Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks-Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames-Winnipeg Jets.
How they will work this out for television is unknown at this time. There will be two hub cities. One on the East Coast, one on the West Coast. Basketball will likely do the same thing. There are eight or nine cities under consideration, and the NHL may wait until more news is out about COVID-19 to select those cities. Regardless, hockey being the first sport back is a major win for their sport. NHL had their labor issues, but they deserve credit for coming together here. The cynic could say they had to with hockey’s season starting in October usually. But that will be delayed until November or December from reports.
Unless baseball can come together and start pushing the ball downfield, it sounds like hockey will be the only sport for all of us in early July.