As we enter late May, hockey fans are accustomed to being entrenched in the thick of the playoffs, with teams battling to move to the second round almost every night of the week, my personal favorite part of the playoffs. Multiple games, series, a goalie stealing the show for his team, the most intense hockey fans can view, or a player putting the team on their back for a chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup. Unfortunately, the NHL season is still paused due to COVID-19, the AHL season and playoffs are canceled, but we have some breaking news that could be music to fan’s ears in this wrap-up!
The first bit of good news is the continuation of the National Hockey League, team owners, and players raising funds for this pandemic that has affected all of us over the past few months. Eric Lindros and the Philadelphia Flyers have gone on to raise $27k for COVID-19 relief funds, Kraft Heinz Canada and Hockey Canada have teamed up to donate over 1 million meals to people in need, and New Amsterdam Vodka teamed up with the Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast boys through Barstool Sports to create the “Support Your Local Bartender” shirts. Together they sold almost 8,000 shirts with 100% of the net proceeds going to the United States Bartenders’ Guild Foundation’s ‘Bartender Emergency Assistance Program’ raising $175K. Stick taps to them and everyone else joining together to provide relief to everyone affected in these trying times!
Now for the updates that every fan has been eagerly waiting to hear. Over the weekend, the NHL and the NHLPA have started to get the ball rolling on what looks to be a fairly concrete solution to remaining and finishing out the 2019-20 season. “The NHLPA has made progress in the discussions on a 24-team playoff format, when and if play resumes, which could involve some regular-season games to be played before the potential postseason begins” according to The Athletic’s Pierre Lebrun. “I’m told the proposed 24-team format doesn’t go straight to the playoffs but involves games in some form before-hand to decide the format. That would be something the players have pushed for. Again let me stress that both sides on the committee as of Sunday morning still had work to do on the format so it may change yet again.” I think at this point the players want the fair shot of their teams making playoffs if they were on the cusp of a spot, so broadening the format from 16 teams to 24 seems like the leagues compromise to that. Hockey all summer long doesn’t sound too bad to anyone, I know I’m not complaining.