Rumored NHL Tournament to Include the New York Rangers

Jim Bay
New York Rangers
Feb 21, 2020; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) and center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrate there win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The New York Rangers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

As players and fans of the New York Rangers sit and wait to see when the NHL and other sports leagues may resume, recent news from many sources has indicated that the NHL is strongly considering going right into a 24 team playoff that would include the Rangers.

NHL Board of Governors/Return to Play Committee seems to favor heading straight to the playoffs

One of the concerns that the NHL and the players association may have been discussing was the necessity of bringing team officials and players back to play who had no chance of making the playoffs. Then after phone conferences with the board of governors on Monday, and the Return to Play committee on Wednesday, the concept of going straight to the playoffs appears to be picking up steam.

Pierre LeBrun of TSN explained the process this way: “On Wednesday, I’m told that 16, 20 and 24 were again talked about as options. But of those three from talking to people around the league both on the team side and also on the players’ side, 24 teams seems to be gathering a bit of traction, with the idea of a playoff format with 24 teams.”

Darren Dreger, also of TSN explained the rationale for wanting to go to this kind of finish for the season. “you could easily adopt a play-in format that trims 24 down to the traditional 16 playoff teams. And by doing that you don’t have regular-season games. You have three to six play-in games, which means you can get through the process more quickly. The reason behind that would be the preparation for the second wave of COVID-19.”

Trying to finish the regular season means that the NHL would have to start up sooner, rather than later and that leads into complications. There are international travel and US-Canada border-crossing restrictions in place that would appear to be obstacles to a quick reopening. Recently, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that any player crossing the border to enter Canada would have to follow their 14-day quarantine rule. There are at least two cities in Canada being considered as “hubs” for a return to play

It’s going to cost lots of money to restart the season regardless of how it’s done. Considering fans will not be able to attend games and therefore no revenue from ticket sales,  many are questioning if it is even worth it for the league to proceed with the 2019-20 season? Considering that there is up to $150 million at stake in television revenue if the remainder of the regular season is wiped out, the NHL will have to total up the costs of restarting to see if it is feasible to reopen.