LOS ANGELES -- When presented with the NHL's 24-team restart plan last week, there was no easy answer for Los Angeles Kings players to choose.
They knew a "yes" vote effectively would end their season, given their position outside the top 24 in the standings.
But if too many teams said "no" in the NHL Players Association vote, the NHL's most realistic restart plan to date could have been rejected.
It was an awkward position for a squad that had won seven straight games before the NHL suspended play March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most teams want their seasons to last as long as possible, and the Kings did too, even though they were not a playoff contender. Now, they were being asked to agree to a plan that would scrap their final 12 games.
"It was hard for us," said defenseman Matt Roy, the team's first-year union representative.
Yet, as Roy tallied the votes, the answers from his teammates became clear. Like every other bottom-seven team in the standings, the Kings approved a plan that ended their season in hopes it saves everyone else's.
"As a team, we accepted what the league was suggesting," Roy said. "We respect the fact that they're trying to do what's best for the league."
Roy knew the stakes as well as anyone.
As the team's union representative -- a role the 25-year-old defenseman inherited in February after former representative Alec Martinez was traded -- he'd sat in on hours of union video meetings detailing the plan's pros (a long-awaited resumption of play, a chance to complete the playoffs, ensuring the Stanley Cup is awarded this fall) and cons (a potentially unfair expanded playoff field, major modifications to the playoff format, and the abandoning of a regular season that still had roughly 15% of its games remaining).
Roy had a personal stake too, the season stoppage coming in the midst of a breakthrough first full NHL season in which he recorded 18 points and a team-high plus-16 rating.