Every day it seems like the news surrounding the virus is getting worse and worse. Unless you are actively seeking out positivity, you can’t help but feel like it’s spiraling out of control in the wrong direction.
That’s why yesterday’s news from the TSN Insider Trading crew came as such a welcome surprise. According to Frank Seravalli, a group of NHL players has begun working on a proposal to play regular-season games in late July followed by the playoffs in August and September. That would leave an “offseason” including the draft and free agency in October and then the 2020-21 season to begin, and be played in full, in November.
The plan is still in the “idea phase” and has not yet been sent up to the league as a true proposal but Pierre LeBrun says it already has the blessing of many players and at least one NHL owner.
Obviously, any plan to return to playing hockey and awarding the Cup for this season should be embraced with open arms by the Golden Knights (we’ve already discussed this), but this one is about as good as it possibly gets for Las Vegas.
First off, bringing back a few regular-season games would be terrific for a team that has little to no danger of falling out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the games should have enough importance that they aren’t glorified preseason games. Hockey won’t look like hockey, and definitely not playoff hockey, for at least a week or two, so playing a few games before the playoffs will be huge in getting the game back up to speed.
This is so important for the Golden Knights because they’ll be fairly heavily favored in the first round. No matter how it lands, even if the standings show Vegas in 3rd in the Pacific, they’ll have the better team heading into that first round. Thus, taking any randomness that comes from rustiness out of the game is crucial.
Next, regular-season games means games for both Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner. If the league goes straight to the postseason, Vegas will likely select one and ride him until they can’t anymore, which at that point will mean the other guy will be playing in a pretty big game having had a heck of a long time off.
Then, a truncated playoff format would probably mean back-to-back games are included in each series. The more back-to-backs, the bigger the advantage for the Golden Knights.
The next benefit this plan offers for the Golden Knights is once again health-related. Cody Glass was expected to be ready for training camp after undergoing surgery to repair his knee. That meant September. Under the newest plan, September would be the back half of the playoffs. Of course, fitting a player coming off knee surgery into a Western Conference Final series isn’t ideal, and Vegas probably wouldn’t do it unless they were forced to, but a shortened playoff would likely lead to more injuries and probably some desperation as they wore on. Games in July would be impossible for Glass, but games in September, at least it’s a maybe.
The final piece of this is regarding the city itself. Let’s be honest, Las Vegas is going to need every event possible to help re-invigorate the economy on the Strip. Returning to play in May or June would likely be without fans. But games in July, August, and September at least offers the chance of full buildings.
Assuming the football stadium gets done on time (it was declared “essential” yesterday, so it should) September and October will offer a few mega-events, also known as NFL games. The new plan could mean major hockey games in August and September too. If the Western Conference Final or Stanley Cup Final is taking place down the road from Tom Brady vs. the Las Vegas Raiders, Vegas is going to be all over the sports news, which means the world will see how the city has responded.
We’re still a long way from this plan being put into place, but the fact that there’s positive, outside-the-box thinking with the players’ support is great news for the 2019-20 season.