On Friday, the NHLPA voted 29-2 for the league to proceed with a plan to allow 24 teams in this year’s paused season to be a part of the playoffs. However, one of the two teams that voted “no” on the proposal was the New York Ranger’s projected first-round opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes. The other team who voted “no” was the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have at least offered some reasons as to why they voted no, which you can read in an article that was published earlier here at Empire Sports Media. As of now, all we have is speculation as to why Carolina voted the way they did.
Could the Hurricanes really fear the New York Rangers?
That would be the most popular among some in Blueshirt nation, but others all share that opinion. According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the Hurricanes could have had issues with the playoff because they would likely end up playing the tenth-seeded New York Rangers, who are one of the most lethal offensive teams in the NHL. This is especially true now that Chris Kreider and the other banged-up Rangers should be fully healthy.
Can't speak to Tampa, but one can see Carolina's issue with having amassed 81 points in 68 games and your reward is playing a non-playoff team (with Artemi Panarin and the 5th best offensive) in a 5-game "play-in." https://t.co/9nac8KnjS7
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 23, 2020
While this could be true, it seems quite unbecoming for a professional sports team to want to avoid someone if they truly believe that they have a shot at the Stanley Cup. After all, if the season went on as originally scheduled, there was still the chance that the Rangers could have made the playoffs while the Hurricanes watched the playoffs from home.
Although, Carolina may remember the last game the played against the Rangers. In a game that ESM covered live from the stands of PNC Arena in Raleigh-Durham, the Rangers easily handled the Hurricanes 5-2 and thereby sweeping the four-game season series. “For whatever reason, they usually play well against us,” Carolina captain Jordan Staal said after the game. The game was also noteworthy for being the Ranger’s seventh straight road win and was the final game in the ever-popular “mom’s trip” set of games.
Do the Hurricanes have other issues with resuming play?
The Hurricanes have had players that have privately stated that they are worried about the amount of time that they may have to spend away from their families in a hub community situation. Although details have not been worked out, the feeling is that players would have to be separated from their families for a great deal of time, possibly as much as four months. For example, the NHLPA Board Representative for the Hurricanes, Jordan Martinook, has a child under two years of age. Others on the Hurricanes like Jaccob Slavin and Jake Gardiner also have young children in the family and they might not want to be away from for weeks or perhaps months at a time.
Granted, there are many in the NHL that have family situations that would make being away difficult. But until we hear definitely from the Hurricanes, they will be faced with many difficult situations, including how they are going to plan against a young and explosive New York Ranger hockey