This Hub Playoff Makes More Sense for the New York Rangers and the NHL

Jim Bay
New York Rangers
Dec 23, 2019; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers right wing Jesper Fast (17) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

While waiting for plans to be worked out, the New York Rangers must feel like the teams that are on the bubble of being included in the NCAA basketball tournament. If the NHL goes with the traditional 16 team format, the Rangers are out. Many hub playoff scenarios have the Rangers in. But some hub playoffs, like having a strict division playoff, leave the Rangers out. However, Elliotte Friedman of sportsnet.ca has proposed a hub playoff that addresses many of the concerns that people have had about previous plans.

First, let us address some of the concerns about the most alleged most popular hub plan which is a 24 team playoff that features a best-of-three play in for the bottom seeded teams.

Concern 1: You are the New York Islanders. Your hub is located in Edmonton, which means that you have to go to Canada and be quarantined for 14 days. You start the tourney and you are swept out in just two games. Now you have gone through all of that just to play two games. Toss in the fact that your regional television network now cannot show any more of your games and try to recoup losses they sustained in the shutdown.



Concern 2: You are assigned to play the Montreal Canadiens in a best-of-three, facing a healthy and rested Carey Price.

Concern 3: You are one of the top-seeded teams, hanging around while the lower-seeded teams get to play some meaningful games.

Friedman’s proposed playoff addresses many of these concerns. First, let’s take a look at his proposed hub assignments:

METROPOLITAN HUB: Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Islanders, Columbus

ATLANTIC HUB: Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Florida, Montreal, Rangers (added as lowest seed from Metropolitan — Bruins are top-ranked in the East and should have that reward in their hub)

CENTRAL HUB: St. Louis, Colorado, Dallas, Winnipeg, Nashville, Chicago (Blackhawks stay in Central because Blues are top-ranked in West)

PACIFIC HUB: Vegas, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Arizona, Minnesota

His playoff would involve a round-robin format in the first round. It would look very much like a youth hockey or other sports tournaments that happen around the globe. This would assure that each team would get to play five games, which helps to know you are going to play at least that much, and your regional television partner would also get those games. Friedman would also like to award bonus points to the higher seeds as a reward for where they finished in the regular season.

The top four teams would then move on and play the traditional best-of-five or best-of-seven format.

The NHL/NHLPA Return to Play committee convened both last Tuesday and Wednesday. And, as Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis, there could be a return-to-play format announced next week. Having an NCAA basketball tourney reveal show would not be a bad idea either.