With the NHL season on an indefinite hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, players have plenty of time to ponder the potential return of the sport.
FILE PHOTO: Mar 6, 2020; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano (5) against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
With it looking increasingly likely that a full 82-game regular season won’t be completed, attention is turning to how the playoffs might look.
In a Friday conference call involving players from four Pacific Division teams, several potential playoff formats were floated.
At the moment, teams have played between 68 and 71 games, calling into question whether total points could be used as the deciding criteria or if the percentage of points amassed should be utilized.
Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano suggested an even more dramatic departure.
“I’ve thought a lot about this,” he said. “In a perfect world, you want to play a full regular season and whoever gets in, gets in. But I don’t think realistically we’re going to have that time.
“You can’t eliminate teams that are in on points percentage. I think you go 12 (playoff teams in each conference). More teams get in this year. Maybe a couple byes at the top, and play it out.”
Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat said of his playoff preference, “Either go by points percentage or play some more regular-season games.
“Obviously, to make it completely fair, you’d want to play more regular-season games and have more games to get in. But if we’re going to start playoffs right away, definitely by percentage, that would put (the Canucks) in. But it’s tough to make that call.”
Regardless of the playoff format, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid said he does not want action to resume with the start of the postseason.
“We want a fair season, and a fair season is a full season,” McDavid said. “If we can go do that, that’s what we would obviously prefer. I don’t think we can just step into playoffs and Game 1, Calgary come to Edmonton and guys are just running around killing each other and we haven’t played a game in two months. It would end up the Stockton Heat against the Bakersfield Condors, if that’s the case.
“We want to keep guys healthy, and we want to make sure that everyone is up and ready for playoff hockey. … If we can get back to playing, I think it could be some of the best playoffs we’ve ever seen.”
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson also favors a resumption of the regular season.
“I think it’s fair to start where we left off here,” Ekman-Larsson said. “It would be good for the playoffs, too, to get those games going again. It would benefit all of us.”
The current Pacific Division standings have the Vegas Golden Knights in first place with 86 points in 71 games played (.606 point percentage), followed by the Oilers (83, 71, .585), the Flames (79, 70, .564), the Canucks (78, 69, .565), the Coyotes (74, 70, .529), the Anaheim Ducks (67, 71, .472), the Los Angeles Kings (64, 70, .457) and the San Jose Sharks (63, 70, .450).
—Field Level Media