Who is ready to watch a .500 team win the Stanley Cup!?! Welcome to 2020, get a load of this.
Source: The dynamic changes by the day, if not by the hour, but sources on both sides of the aisle have told The Post that the NHL’s reopening plan has shifted from completing the 2019-20 regular season to instead staging a 24-team tournament that would include a best-of-three play-in round.
Global pandemic-related issues such as testing — procuring enough kits, swabs, and attendant equipment and labs to enable regular testing with rapid results — remain outstanding as the NHL and NHLPA continue to meet regularly with their own constituencies and jointly with a shared objective of crowning a 2020 Stanley Cup champion.
But we are told that the league’s focus has shifted to the tournament plan for three basic reasons: 1) Condensing the duration of play to better guard against the potential of a second wave of the coronavirus striking and necessitating a second shutdown; 2) Avoiding having to reassemble teams with no realistic chance of making the playoffs and having them play up to a month’s worth of meaningless games; 3) Avoiding the prospect of a quarantine within a hub city/hotel for up to four months, including a three-week training camp, for teams going deep into the playoffs following a regular-season completion.
The format of a 24-team tournament has not yet been established. But if the league goes with the top 12 teams in each conference, that would include every club at NHL .500 or better when play stopped on Mar. 11. That structure would include the Rangers and Chicago.