On Monday, the NHL gave the New York Rangers and the rest of the league’s players permission to return home. Monday’s decision marks a big change in the NHL’s initial plan when the season was paused last Thursday, which instructed players to stay in their NHL city to self-quarantine. It was the hope that a return to the ice could be quicker, but recent events and CDC guidelines are pushing everything back. The good news is that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently state that: “My hope and expectation is that we can finish the season in some form, award the Stanley Cup and then be able to move on feeling that we accomplished that goal of finishing the season for our fans.” The big question is, what playoff scenario would include the New York Rangers?
The New York Rangers would be included in a 24 team playoff format
This appears to be the favorite among many NHL executives as it deals with a couple of important issues. First is this format would allow teams who were within striking distance to be in the playoffs. The second is, from a financially practical standpoint, it would allow two of the biggest TV markets into the playoff. The New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks would be included in this kind of format.
The concept isn’t without seeding challenges. Teams had played an uneven number of games when the regular season was paused last week, so points percentage would have to be used. Regardless of the league uses division or conference preferences, the New York Rangers would be the 11th seed. Depending on the seeding preferences, their opponent would either be the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Carolina Panthers.
A 16 team playoff would eliminate the New York Rangers
I won’t spend a lot of time on this one as even if they have some kind of play-in for the seventh or eighth seed, this would eliminate the Blueshirts. This one would probably only be adopted if the 24 team playoff would take too long.
It appears the 24-team, play-in style playoff format would fit the NHL as it would be designed to maximize revenues. It would also include the three vital markets of New York, Chicago, and Montreal. This format also includes every team that was reasonably in contention from a regular season that will almost certainly be halted at 85-per-cent completion.