Word around the NHL is that the league may resume with a 24-team playoff format. What does that mean for the Anaheim Ducks?
In a tweet published by Pierre LeBrun, the Athletic Columnist and hockey insider shared with fans some rather important news. According to his sources, the NHL and NHLPA has made progress in their plans to resume the 2019-20 season with a 24-team playoff format. While some fans may not agree (by fans, I mean me) with the format being pushed, that is a debate for another day. What we really need to know is how this playoff format affects the Anaheim Ducks.
While a plan is not set in stone, it seems as though there is progress being made. Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, has already expressed his desire to resume the season at some point this summer. If the playoffs should resume, the top 24-teams, based on win percentage, would likely compete in a divisional round-robin style playoff series. Later in the playoffs, the teams would resume the normal best-of-seven playoff format.
This gives several teams, who would otherwise not be playoff eligible, the opportunity to compete for Lord Stanely. However, this also means that Hockey in California is over for the remainder of the season. With the proposed format, the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks would be the three teams from the Western Conference whose season would end.
So, enough with playoff talk. If the Anaheim Ducks aren’t going to be there, what’s the point in discussing it further? There are other questions that need to be answered. When will the 2020-21 season start? What does a prolonged period without hockey mean for the Anaheim Ducks? Well, fear not, because we’re about to jump into it.
A Long Hiatus Ahead for the Anaheim Ducks
Should the NHL resume the 2019-20 season, there is a big possibility that the 2020-21 season will not resume in October as normal. There is talk about the season being postponed until November or even December.
"“There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. We’re going to try and make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back. When we come back, we want it to be at the right time, for the right reasons, under the right circumstances.” –Gary Bettman, NHL Comissioner"
What does this mean for the Anaheim Ducks? This means the team will go almost 9 months without seeing any NHL action. Is this good or bad? That is honestly up for debate, but there are both positives and negatives to the situation.
On the negative side of things, being out of the game for so long could cause a disconnect with the fanbase. We thrive off of the action that comes with watching out team play, even if they aren’t necessarily playing well. Bad hockey is better than no hockey, I suppose. Being off the ice for so long doesn’t allow for the team to connect with their fans, and it could potentially be damaging for the franchise when it comes to selling or renewing season tickets next season.
Stay-at-home orders are also predicted to last until July or August in some California cities due to COVID-19. This could potentially limit the Anaheim Ducks’ ability to get back out on the ice and get back in shape. Granted, there are several states that are slowly opening back up, which gives them the option to travel and find a place to start their offseason training and conditioning.
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Anaheim Ducks fans have also been looking forward to the draft and free agency as well, and with the season set to resume, this could possibly push these events back. The NHL has been pushing for a June draft, but in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t make sense if the league is going forward with their playoff plans. While watching other teams compete in the playoffs might be a fun experience, we are left waiting, and this hiatus has already been boring enough. We need some action too!
There is also the question of injuries. Will a prolonged hiatus give the Anaheim Ducks more time to recover from lingering injuries or will extended time away from NHL action make them more vulnerable to injury in the future? In all honesty, that remains to be seen.
On the other side of things, however, the rest might be good for the Anaheim Ducks. A season like the one the Ducks have had can be just as draining as a season spent in a prime position for the playoffs, but the effects are definetly negative instead of positive. It is discouraging, difficult, and not great for motivation.
This could allow the players to reconnect with each other as well as themselves and their passion for the game. Will the Ducks come back from such a long break better than ever? Unlikely. Nevertheless, it could boost their confidence and possibly their performance.
There are a lot of questions Bob Murray needs to contemplate for the sake of his franchise. He has a lot of time to figure things out, and fans can only hope that he uses this time wisely.
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