Canes opposed 24-team NHL return to play format but are eager to play

Chip Alexander, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in Hockey

The Carolina Hurricanes were one of two NHL teams to vote against a 24-team return to play format that has been approved by the NHL Players' Association executive board.

Why? Jordan Martinook, the team's player representative to the NHLPA, said Monday the Canes believed an extra play-in round, as proposed, would not only lengthen the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs but also the odds against them winning the Cup.

"You play so hard throughout the whole season to kind of put yourself in a position to make the playoffs," Martinook said in a zoom media call. "Obviously we had a pretty good shot at making it and ... from where we were and where I think our team could get to, it kind of limits our odds and makes you play another playoff series, basically.

"Every playoff series is tough. When you have to win four to win the Stanley Cup I think the (St. Louis) Blues would tell you it's hard enough. Now that you'll have to win five it's obviously hard but it is what it is. We're fine with the way it's going to go. ...

"It wasn't like we didn't want to play or anything. It was just this particular option maybe didn't benefit us. It's just kind of the stance we took."

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NHL, along with all the other major leagues, suspended its 2019-20 season. On March 12 it announced a "pause" that now has stretched a few months and many of the NHL players returned to their home cities, whether in the U.S., Canada or outside North America.


But the NHL and NHLPA have been jointly working to try and restart the season. The NHLPA on Friday announced the executive board decision on the 24-team format, in which the top four teams in each conference would receive first-round byes while the other 16 go through a best-of-five play-in round to determine the top 16 teams to compete for the Cup.

The games would be played without fans, possibly at as many as four "hub" sites.

Another step was taken Monday by the NHL, which announced it soon would begin "Phase 2" of the restart Players, after a self-quarantine period, will be allowed to participate in small, voluntary workouts -- no more than six players in a group -- on and off the ice at the team's facilities.

The NHL said it was "targeting" a date in early June for the transition to Phase 2. The league said it would "monitor developments" in each team's market in terms what's allowed because of COVID-19 restrictions and then adjust.


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