Wednesday marked 119 days since the last NHL game was played before the 2019-20 season was put on pause because of the coronavirus outbreak.
For hockey fans, just one live game would be a sight for sore eyes at this point. Imagine six competitive, playoff-like games spread throughout one day?
According to a report Wednesday by ESPN's Emily Kaplan, the NHL is eyeing such a plan for the beginning of its return-to-play 24-team tournament:
I’m told the most likely plan for the NHL is to have three games a day in each of the hub cities: 12 pm, 4pm & 8pm.— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) July 8, 2020
Given the two hour difference between Toronto & Edmonton, should be a viewer’s dream.
It would be like the playoff hockey version of the NCAA Tournament's opening days, when games are played from basically noon ET to midnight. In this scenario, with the targeted hub cities — Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton, Alberta (Western Conference) — a game would be played at noon ET for the East and 2 p.m. ET for the West, then 4 p.m. ET for the East and 6 p.m. ET for the West, and so on.
This plan is not yet official as it must be ratified by a number of parties, a vote that is currently taking place.
The NHLPA's Executive Board has approved the tentative CBA and referred it to the NHLPA Membership for a ratification vote. pic.twitter.com/nqDpMpZYbd— NHLPA (@NHLPA) July 8, 2020
Teams likely to be playing two games every three days to start — no travel days obviously — but that may not always hold true. Preliminary (best of five) round likely to be done in 9 or 10 days. Regular playoffs (best of seven) still closer to two weeks.— Bobby Margarita (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 7, 2020
When could we see these busy days of games? The NHL has set Aug. 1 as the start date of the qualifying round, which includes the round robin featuring the Flyers, Bruins, Lightning and Capitals. July 13 is when clubs are scheduled to open formal training camp at their respective practice facilities and July 26 is when clubs are expected to travel to their respective hub city. Exhibition games will be played prior to the qualifying round (more on everything here).
The Flyers have a nice opportunity in the round-robin tournament as the East's No. 4 seed and with a chance to climb (more on their outlook here).
Here are the East's qualifying-round matchups (best-of-five series) and seed Nos. 1-12.
No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets
No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers
No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers
No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens
8. Maple Leafs
9. Blue Jackets
The Flyers went 29-17-7 against the NHL's 24-team field during the regular season. pic.twitter.com/Njf976liJ9— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) June 10, 2020
The social distancing Flyers.— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) July 8, 2020
(📷 by Flyers PR guru Zack Hill) pic.twitter.com/SnidMHPlzH
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