Connor McDavid would prefer if the NHL played out the rest of the 2019-20 schedule once the coronavirus pandemic has passed and the league resumes play. Going straight into the playoffs after all this time off? Not ideal, the Oilers captain said on a Friday video conference with reporters.
“I think [the standings] look pretty good right now,” said McDavid of his second-place Oilers. “But you want a fair season. And a fair season is a full season. If we can do that, then that’s what we’d obviously prefer. I don’t think we can just step into playoffs, Game 1, Calgary comes to Edmonton, and guys are just running around killing each other and haven’t played a game in two months. It’ll end up the [AHL] Stockton Heat versus the Bakersfield Condors if that’s the case. We want to keep guys healthy and we want to make sure everyone’s up and ready to play some playoff hockey.”
Flames captain Mark Giordano would also prefer to see a full 82-game schedule played out, but a prolonged pause and an emphasis on not affecting the 2020-21 season would be a factor.
“I’ve thought a lot about this,” said Giordano, whose Flames are in third place in the Pacific Division, four points behind the Oilers. “In a perfect world, you want to play a full regular season and whoever gets in, gets in. But I don’t think realistically we’re going to have that time.”
The Flames and Oilers have a bit of a cushion in their divisional playoff race, but what about a team like the Coyotes, who are four points out a wild card spot and five points behind Calgary in the division?
“I think it’s only fair to start where we left off here,” said Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson. “It would be good for the playoffs too, to get those games going again and get into a playoff spot and be ready for a really good playoffs. I think that would benefit all of us.”
One playoff format idea that’s been floated is using points percentage and including a few more than the usual 16 teams. Giordano isn’t a fan of the points percentage idea, but is keen on 12 teams in each conference making the postseason with Round 1 byes for top teams.
One thing Giordano and his fellow Pacific Division captains agreed on was that should a 2020 postseason be played, the time off would ensure a quality tournament.
“If we can ever get back to playing, it’s going to be one of the best playoffs ever,” said Giordano. “You’re going to be playing the best version of every team.”
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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.