Above all the National Hockey League was considered a top candidate to first return to action. That is based on the combination of its cultural ethics and financial considerations. Hockey players are renowned for their willingness to play through anything. Not to mention their tradition of excellence in the face of hardship. Also true is that the NHL players are not as entitled as their counterparts in baseball and basketball. They are more willing to do more for less. Specifically, it is this cultural trait that makes hockey fans so loyal.
The account of the NHL having smaller revenue streams that the other major sports are a further incentive. Hockey owners are well known for their hardnosed conservative ways. Admittedly this adds to the strong possibility of action resuming with the NHL betting odds. NHL teams rely on gate attendance more than TV revenue for survival. Yet games without fans but still on TV are considered better than nothing. To put it another way, NHL owners believe a bird in hand is better than two in the bush. With that in mind let’s look at the latest plan gaining traction.
Top 24 Teams to Play
The NHL is considering a plan in which only the top 24 teams would play. As a consequence, the six worst teams would not play at all. What the NHL is trying to accomplish is to include any “bubble” teams. To illuminate such teams were in the neighborhood of a playoff berth at shutdown time. It also doesn’t hurt that the two 12th place teams in each conference are Original Six mega markets.
Specifically, the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks are online betting marquee brands. Neither team would have likely made the playoffs in a full season. But they were close enough to merit an invite in a COVID-19 situation. Montreal and Chicago bring a lot of TV viewers. Much more so than teams such as the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes. Of course, Florida and Arizona would both get in as well. But they have zero in the way of national fan bases.
Four Regional Locations
When play resumes it is likely to do so in four different quarantined locations. In turn, six teams would play at each site. When possible the six teams would be a regionally close-in location to each other. When possible, teams from the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific Divisions would play in divisional groups. Fashion the rivalry aspect for the NHL betting odds. There would be no fans allowed at the games at first. In like manner, there may not be any fans in the later rounds. Or even for the Stanley Cup Final itself.
Short “Regular Season” Before Playoffs
At the onset, it’s likely that there would be some “regular season” games in the four locations. This would help teams get their legs back and into playing shape for the playoffs. Additionally, teams would play and jockey for seedings in the postseason. Scheduling would likely be in some type of round-robin format. It follows that the playoff format itself has not yet been specified.
Summing up the NHL will have to work with the NHL Players Association to finalize safety protocol. Testing, essential personnel, and quarantine environments are all issues to be negotiated. Increasingly more NHL players are talking about a return to play as a way to contribute to society. And in that spirit, the puck may soon drop!