NHL plans for late Stanley Cup playoff run

This is day number 78 without sports.

Sure we’ve had the golf match with Brady, Manning, Woods, and Mickelson over the weekend.

Nascar is back and the UFC,  has had a match or two, but for the big four MLB, the NHL, the NBA, and the NFL, there has been no competition in 78 days.

Sports fans gots some good news this week as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the NHL season would be resuming in late July or early August with the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This mid-July time frame seems to be when MLB has tentatively planned to start up their season and the NBA playoffs could also be starting in July.

The July-through September period on the sports calendar has the potential to be one of the craziest couples of months in the history of sports.

In September alone you could potentially have the start of the NFL season, college football starting up, the Stanley Cup is awarded in the NHL, and the NBA champion being crowned.

Let’s not forget that MLB will be in their stretch run and teams will be battling it out for playoff positioning.

This will be a September to remember. Never has there been this many important games on the sports landscapes in one month.

As the NHL moves into phase two of its re-start, we heard that the Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes were the two teams that voted no on the 24 team playoff format.

On a media conference call Alex Killorn said “ The only problem I have with that format is that the top teams that have a bye, I don’t know how competitive their games will be. Where the teams that are in the bottom will be playing playoff games straight away and potentially will be more prepared for once the real playoffs start after the play-in happens.”

Killorn and the Lightning are still thinking about that epic meltdown from the 2018-19 season when the Lightning waltzed through the regular season and had the number one seed wrapped up by March.

The Lightning then coasted the rest of the way, while their first-round opponents the Columbus Blue Jackets were playing for their playoff lives every night.

The Jackets swept the Lightning 4-0 in that series in what will be the biggest upset ever in NHL playoff history.

With the Lightning being one of the top four seeds with Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia in the East, it’s not like the Lightning will be sitting idly by watching hockey.

They will be playing a round-robin tournament with the top four teams to determine the top four seeds.

You must have your playoff game ready from the first puck drop. If not, you could end up against a tough opponent in the first round and be sent home early.

The playoffs will be staged in two cities. One for the Eastern Conference, and one for the Western Conference.

There are rumors that Las Vegas and Edmonton are the front runners, but there has been no determination on the host cities.

We do know that Tampa has been taken out of consideration for a potential hub city.

The league is hoping to have small groups skating at NHL rinks starting in early June. Training camps are not expected to start before July.

During the phase 2 plan, on-ice sessions will be non-contact and involve up to six players. These players will be expected to maintain physical distancing at all times. Players will be required to wear masks when entering and exiting facilities, and when not able to physical distance.

The memo from the NHL reads as follows: “Face coverings (cloth or surgical-type mask) shall be worn at all times other than while exercising when entering or leaving the club facility, and while inside the club facility where social distancing cannot be maintained. Players are not required to wear face coverings when they are exercising or on the ice.”

In phase 2, teams are not allowed to require a player to return to a club’s home city to complete any necessary quarantine measures before the workouts begin.

Coaches and management will be allowed to watch the informal practice sessions, but will not be allowed on the ice.     

This could be one of the best Stanley Cup Tournaments in history, as all 24 teams should be 100 percent healthy.

The competition will be great. Lace-up the skates and drop the puck. I’m ready.

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