For the onset of this blog, I will be staying anonymous (besides signing my initials), but with that said I want to drop the puck on this for this weekend. I hope that all of you are as eager to read our blog as I am to be writing it, as well of course that everyone is staying healthy and happy during this time that our kids and grandkids one day will be asking us about when it is a chapter in their history textbooks. Now, I have never really written a blog before so please bare with me as I learn and grow with this concept on how to write something that is not only engaging but also something that is thought-provoking for all of you while you await our Deals of the Day.
I would like to start off with just a bit about what the blog will be about and some of my personal knowledge. Being based from Frameworth obviously our blogs will mainly focus on sports, but of course with a specific focus on the NHL/Hockey in particular, as far as personal knowledge I like to think that I have a really strong base for hockey and football with a decent background knowledge of the other two members of the Big 4 North American Leagues, as well as just a dash of knowledge for other odds and ends. Our first topic of course, must be about Return to Play formats that are being proposed/negotiated – I was truly looking for a different topic to start with, but this is very unavoidable in my opinion. Now let us dive in.
The NHL recently unveiled what their return to play would look like, for those of you that did not see it the top 24 teams are all apart of the format (bottom 7 are now done). Which I have to say as a Leafs fan; do I ever feel for Jack Eichel, you can tell that he wants nothing more than to be playing competitive playoff hockey. Anyways back to the format, the top 4 teams in each conference will be playing in a round robin format will the remaining teams will be doing a play-in round (which of course has come with controversy) where you have teams that were firmly out of the playoff race now being given a chance to win it all. As someone who particularly likes chaos mixed with his sports, I think it would be quite the spectacle to see Montreal or Chicago (the 2 teams ranked at the bottom for play-ins) to somehow knock-out their higher ranked opponents. After the play-in round is where we finally get back to some normalcy with this NHL proposal and where we see a more traditional Playoffs begin to take shape. There are many people who don’t like this format, if I am being honest I was not a fan at first either, but if the NHL insists on finishing the season this year this is the only way to possibly award a Stanley Cup. The biggest problems I can see with this are to do with next season, first and foremost, how does it start? When does it start? Will fans be at the games? What about the salary cap?
Some of you might read those questions posed above and agree with them, some you might think I am crazy for posing them (such as about fans being at the games). The biggest thing we need to remember with the NHL is that it is a league that relies on gate-revenue (ticket sales), to be a main component of Hockey Related Revenue as well as it to be one of the bigger factors in what happens with the salary cap. This is why having fans at NHL games for next season is so imperative for the overall health of the league, whether it be for salary cap reasons, or just general operating expenses fans in the stands is a big deal for the NHL and it’s teams (even if the stands have to be filled to only 25%). That is a scenario that rings true for almost all of the major leagues (especially in North America), the biggest exception to this is the NFL which as some of you may know covers all operating expenses including salaries through their massive T.V deals. This is precisely why, I believe that after the conclusion of this NHL season, we might not see NHL hockey again until the New Year, as the league will want all of the facts possible in terms of having fans in the stands and the logistical challenges that will come with it.
The bottom line, is the NHL wants to finish this season and continue on to next season on their terms without a hitch, but they also do not want a repeat of the 1918-1919 Stanley Cup Finals where the champion could not be declared due to majority of the players contracting the Spanish Flu. Life as we once knew it, has changed and we will continue to see more changes to our lives from the current pandemic, but hopefully a return of sports will help people who might be feeling that cabin fever beginning to set in.
Please come back next week for our next installment, I can guarantee to you that it will be a much happier tone now that we have talked about the elephant in the room.