Last week, the world of sports came to an abrupt halt when the NBA was forced to suspend its season over fears of a global pandemic and other leagues quickly followed suit, as the NHL hit the pause button the following day and the MLB canceled the remainder of spring training and postponed the start of the regular season to an as of yet undetermined date.
As a result, I spent the past weekend trying to figure out what the fuck I’m supposed to do with my life now that there’s close to literally no sports to watch (at least until ESPN adopts my idea to pivot to “The Ocho”), and while I had planned to spend a chunk of Friday and Saturday watching my Bruins continue on their quest to secure the Presidents’ Trophy, I instead devoted that time to working my way through my Netflix watchlist.
All of the aforementioned cancelations hit me pretty hard but I was almost emotionally distraught when I learned about the NHL’s (absolutely correct) decision due to a harsh reality I was suddenly confronted with: there might not be any playoff hockey this year.
It is an objective fact that there is no league that has a more electric postseason than the NHL, as players channel their inner Emeril Lagasse and kick things up a notch when the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway. Every game features some absolutely unparalleled intensity as the boys leave it all on the ice in an attempt to get their names engraved on the most iconic championship trophy in existence.
As of right now, there’s currently no timeline on when things will finally return to normal, but based on the recommendations the CDC released over the weekend concerning a cap on public gatherings, it’s going to be a couple of months at the very minimum.
I’d personally be shocked if either the NBA or NHL actually play out the remainder of their schedule, but according to Sporting News, the latter has begun to work on a contingency plan if it manages to get things up and running in the form of a Stanley Cup Playoffs that’d feature 24 damn teams.
The plan was first reported by Igor Eronko and his scoop was confirmed by another reporter who said it’s one of a few options that are currently being floated as franchises around the league attempt to come up with a viable way to salvage the season.
It appears the proposed number of teams was based on the number of squads that currently have a statistical chance of making the playoffs (regardless of how slim the odds were when the season was put on the backburner).
One fan put together a graphic of what this proposed postseason could look like, with the league’s lowliest teams playing a single game to advance to a second round that would consist of a three-game showdown. Things would then get back to normal in a third round comprised of sixteen teams where those who managed to make it through the first couple would face off against the ones who are currently in the top four of each division.
It might be unconventional but it’d be an incredible way to reboot (although you have to wonder if the best teams in the league would benefit or be at a disadvantage from a long rest as opposed to others who would come into a series without any rust and some momentum on their side).
As things currently stand, it still seems like this is a major longshot but my fingers are tightly crossed.