The National Hockey League will introduce an extremely exciting format for the first time in its history when it returns from the unexpected layoff caused by the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, a 24 team showdown that will eventually lead to the traditional 16 team Stanley Cup Playoffs. The format has the possibility of creating major upsets and major drama and one that as a neutral observer I am very much looking forward to.
For many fans around the National Hockey League though the new playoff format means a great deal of frustration, at least that is the case for the fan bases of the 7 NHL teams that have been excluded from this process. For those of you who have not been following, the Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks have all been excluded from this tournament and as a result this means that they could go several long months without playing as a result.
Many have openly discussed the need for these teams to get some games in under their belt in order to keep pace with the rest of the league and, given that these teams could have been off for over 10 months given the delay in this current season, frankly it makes perfect sense. Thus far however there has seemingly been no discussions in that regard, at least not until now. Although nothing is official at this time in a recent article for Sportsnet, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman revealed that there had finally been some discussion on this topic. According to Friedman we could actually see the 7 teams on the outside looking in playing games sometime in the fall.
There is talk of “games” involving the seven non-playing teams sometime in the fall. Details are sketchy, since that isn’t a current priority, but those organizations don’t want their guys waiting until December/January to play.
If I was general manager Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings or general manager Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks I would be furious at the proposed layoff for my team. Both teams are currently retooling or rebuilding and they need all of the games they can get, as is the case for many of the bottom 7 teams. I would like to see them get some games in, my question now would be how the NHL could find a way to make those contests meaningful to fans.