According to a report from ESPN hockey insider Greg Wyshynski, the NHL has turned its focus away from the 2019-20 regular season and instead is hoping to jump right into an expandedStanley Cup Playoffs once play resumes. Wyshynski also reported on the“expanded field” concept which would see 24 teams compete for the Stanley Cup, rather than the usual 16 teams.
When that happens and the logistics of it all though are still unclear.
Expanding the field by four teams per conference would enable bubble teams like the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks earn at least earn the chance to play into a playoff spot alongside the teams currently in a playoff spot.
However, Pierre LeBrun reports in his latest column in The Athletic that some clubs are not thrilled about the proposed plan.
“I don’t think the 24-team, play-in format sits well with everyone. There are some on the players’ side but also among team executives who feel it doesn’t pass the smell test as far as fairness to reward Chicago and Montreal with a ticket to the season-ending dance.
Under one proposed model that was circulated, Pittsburgh would face Montreal in a play-in series (presumably best-of-three), the 15-point gap between teams certainly noticeable. But you can imagine if you’re the Penguins you’re probably a little worried Carey Price stands on his head for 48 hours and ends your season.
Hey, upsets happen in a parity-filled league. Just ask Tampa Bay last spring. But is it fair that a Montreal team which traded away pending UFAs before the trade deadline, a clear indicator of where the Habs felt their season was headed, now gets to come back in?”
However, LeBrun reveals how it would be beneficial to the league to get more teams in the mix and reaching more markets.
If teams are against the idea of a 24-team format, it seems that 20 clubs would be preferred for a postseason format:
“It’s why I think maybe a 20-team return, which has also been discussed, would maybe make more sense? The play-in could be No. 7 vs. No. 10 and No. 8 vs. No. 9 on each side …”
What do you think?