It sounds like Peter DeBoer isn’t fond of some outside-the-box hockey ideas for whenever play might resume. Specifically, DeBoer objected to a) a playoff format that would involve bye week(s) and b) a tournament to determine which team gets the top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
DeBoer addressed those issues and more during a March 31 interview with ESPN on Ice’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski. The Golden Knights’ head coach also reiterated to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun that he’s not in favor of a “bye” week-type setup on April 3 (sub required).
DeBoer: not in favor of a bye week/more than 16 NHL playoff teams
DeBoer told ESPN on Ice that he wants the Stanley Cup to be awarded in a way that the winning team wouldn’t need an “asterisk.”
Even so, he’d ask the NHL’s planners to thread the needle. DeBoer doesn’t want more than 16 teams in a playoff format, but also wants things to be fair. Around the 28-minute mark of the podcast, DeBoer indicated that he’d prefer sacrificing some rest if it meant that the Golden Knights would be less rusty in a postseason situation.
” … There’s a huge advantage to having played games,” DeBoer said.
Of course, DeBoer calls for a typical format with his Golden Knights ranked first in the Pacific Division. Would he feel the same way if Vegas was ranked outside of the wild card, but with games in hand, or some other fuzzy situation?
Even DeBoer hinted at seeing things differently if his team wasn’t in such a comfortable spot.
“I’m more in favour of the traditional format,” DeBoer said to LeBrun. “Although I understand that we’re not a bubble team and I’m sure for my good friend Paul Maurice (in Winnipeg) it’s different when you’re either just in or just out depending on whether they (use) points percentage or not. But yeah I prefer the traditional route.”
DeBoer shoots down tournament for the top pick
DeBoer made some great points to Kaplan and Wyshynski about the potential downsides of a hypothetical tournament to determine the top pick.
As a coach who’s been behind the bench for some lottery teams, DeBoer addressed the elephant in the room. When you’re suffering through a lousy season, you just want it to end as soon as possible.
Now, some would debate DeBoer’s assertion that fans might not have an “appetite” for a No. 1 pick tournament. Maybe that would be true for fans during a typical season, but under these circumstances, I’d imagine there would be a lot of interest to see a lottery tournament of sorts.
From fans, at least. It would be strange not just for the coaches, but also the players involved. After all, how much should a current player care about their team landing that draft’s top pick? Maybe a “core” player would see the value, but plenty of others 1) wonder if they’ll even play for that team much longer and 2) would view a better pick as a bigger threat to their spot.
There’d be serious cognitive dissonance to playing high-stakes games to possibly hurt your career. After all, a higher draft pick is that much more likely to push players down the depth chart, or off of it altogether. So DeBoer definitely makes some good points.
DeBoer backed up earlier comments made by Los Angeles Kings coach Todd McLellan.
McLellan on if there should be a tournament for the lottery teams.
"I'm not a fan of it. Not one bit.'
— lisa dillman (@reallisa) March 30, 2020
(Then again, players might warm up to the idea if … say, playing a lottery tournament cut down on their money lost from escrow. Just throwing it out there.)
More from DeBoer
That ESPN on Ice interview (from 26-minute mark to 38) is worth your time, as DeBoer also discusses:
- Load management: DeBoer was asked the question if things get congested between a modified end to 2019-20 while getting in a full 82 games. His general takeaway is that, while not often using healthy scratches, teams already practice subtle load management.
(Personally, I still think NHL teams could do more, and smart ones might benefit in the long run.)
- Some amusing stuff on Nick Cousins, of all players, being named one of the worst trash talkers in the NHLPA poll.
It’s one thing for Brad Marchand to land on such a list. But Cousins is funnier because … well, he might not always walk the walk. At least at the NHL level.
- Among other things, DeBoer also spoke about the strange transition of becoming Golden Knights head coach after being fired by the hated Sharks. He seems to indicate that it wasn’t as awkward as one might think.
DeBoer gives us a lot to ponder thanks to those two interviews. Do you agree with DeBoer on avoiding a bye week and not having a No. 1 pick tournament?
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.