PHT Morning Skate: Could NHL return-to-play changes be permanent?

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PHT Morning Skate: Could return-to-play changes become permanent for NHL?

• Lyle Richardson provides an overview (with help from reports including those of The Athletic’s James Mirtle [Mirtle’s article requires a subscription]) regarding how the NHL schedule could look over time. If there aren’t further interruptions, the NHL might be able to incrementally move the timeline closer to the traditional October to April regular season (and postseason into June).

Then again, maybe not? Mirtle and others report that the NHL is also pondering more permanent changes. Could there be a way to set things up to not compete with the NBA and NFL?

It’s fascinating stuff, although I’d probably aim for different formats to gain more sports mindshare. [More from Richardson at Featurd]

• Earlier this week, PHT pondered how Canada’s quarantine restrictions likely make NHL return-to-play events like the 2020 Stanley Cup Final more feasible in the U.S. In that post, we did note that things could change. Well, British Columbia government officials are trying to get quarantine modifications made to allow Vancouver to serve as a hub city. There are still big steps to take, including such modifications being approved at the necessary higher levels. Still, it’s an interesting development. [CTV News]

• The NHL instituting a 24-team playoff format seems like a one-time fix. But what if that format also stayed if schedules go back to normal? Tyler Yaremchuk of Oilers Nation advances a compelling argument from a ton of different perspectives. Personally, I’d be intrigued to aim somewhere in the middle. Maybe make the bubble a little smaller than 24 teams, yet more than 16? Go year by year to see who is close? If teams with bye griped about rust, maybe make play-in rounds best-of-three, or even single elimination?

With some tweaks, this could be a cash cow and an attention-demanding spectacle. (“Sudden death” can have a nice ring to it when you’re talking about sports and … you know, not actual sudden death.) [Oilers Nation.]

Racism in hockey

• If you’re like me, you’re heartbroken by Wayne Simmonds saying “It gets kinda lonely when you’re the only black face on the team.” Simmonds, like others including Anson Carter, should open many eyes with the way he speaks from the heart about racism in hockey. [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

• The Canadian Press captures some of the mood of the gaming community regarding EA Sports handling online racism from users in titles like “NHL 20.” Some believe that this statement is merely “lip service.” [More from the Canadian Press]

Other NHL and/or hockey links

• Keeper of the Cup Phil Pritchard shared a simple message during the pandemic pause: “I’m ready whenever.” [The Score]

• Could the Boston Pride be part of a culture change in the National Women’s Hockey League? Here’s hoping, judging by the details Marisa Ingemi shares about what players went through over the years. [The Metro West Daily News]

• Sometimes player ratings are cringe-worthy in “NHL 20” and other hockey video games. Yet, before you gripe too loud, you realize how thankless that job of rating so many players in so many categories. Still, maybe there’s a way to improve things, so Billy Betrand of the Point is conducting what sounds likely to be a fascinating experiment. [The Point]

• Stu Cowan digs deep on the Canadiens’ outlook under Geoff Molson: in the present, past, and future. [Montreal Gazette]

• Alexis Lafreniere won the CHL Player of the Year award for the second season in the row. Lafreniere became just the second player to do that. The first? Some obscure bust named “Sidney Crosby.” [NHL]

• A “What if?” scenario that will make your brain do a spin-o-rama. What if the Quebec Nordiques drafted Denis Savard instead of the Chicago Blackhawks? [Puck Junk]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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