Wednesday marked the 70th day of the 2019-20 NHL stoppage.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league's return to play committee has discussed a variety of different avenues for a potential resumption of play to award the Stanley Cup.
While everyone hopes for eventual progress toward a return to action, right now, discussions are only discussions. That goes for the 24-team tournament idea that has recently come to the forefront of chatter within the hockey world.
James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers' NHLPA representative, mentioned how a number of scenarios are on the table.
There are a bunch of different formats being talked about," van Riemsdyk said Wednesday on a conference call. "It’s hard to really say what the leader is just because things can change, nothing is really certain until it’s certain, things can change so quickly. Different things that probably were looked at earlier on probably aren’t feasible now.
"There are different things that can change, so it’s hard to say there’s a real leader but we’re trying to keep as many options open and navigate through different things and hopefully come up with a decision that … first and foremost is the health and safety of everyone and from there it’s to try to find something that keeps that integrity and competitiveness that is so great about our game and is so great about the Stanley Cup.
As all NHL teams remain apart in the self-isolation phase, a big topic among the NHL and NHLPA is the length of time players will have to quarantine from their families when/if the league gets back into action. That's not to mention the other obstacle of where the games will be held. The NHL and NHLPA are cognizant of those important issues.
"No one wants to be away from their families for months on end," van Riemsdyk, whose wife Lauren recently gave birth to their first child, said. "Everyone is aware of that who is on this committee. I don’t think we’d be asked to do something like that, I think it’d be much more manageable, sort of set up in situation. What that is is still trying to sort through some of that, but no one is asking us to be without seeing our family for too long of a stretch.”
The league has the entire summer ahead but time is ticking as the calendar nears June, which is when the Stanley Cup is typically awarded and the month in which the NHL entry draft is normally held. The NHL will soon have decisions to make on the date of the currently-postponed draft, which could give us a sense of what's next to come in the league's hope to finish 2019-20. Van Riemsdyk said he doesn't think the NHL is near any type of deadline date as the league is looking to be flexible with the time left.
Prior to the pause, the Flyers had won nine of their last 10 games and were 19-6-1 since Jan. 8, a stretch in which they were tied with the Bruins for the NHL's most points at 39. At 41-21-7, the Flyers are in second place of the Metropolitan Division and have the league's sixth-most points with 89, so they should be in a relatively favorable position for any type of resumption.
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