Another day goes by with another new rumor for the NHL’s return to the ice. The league is now changing direction for playing out the remaining games in the regular season and shifting back to 24-team tournament which would include the New York Rangers.
The New York Rangers hockey club has been waiting patiently for the NHL to decide if and when the 2019-’20 season will resume. At the time of the NHL’s pause, the Blueshirts were one of the hottest teams on the ice, yet found themselves two points out of a playoff spot. The thought that there only shot at making the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be if the league decided to complete the regular season sometime this summer.
Report of haveing a four-city hub to play out the season had been circulated throughout social media. Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Edmonton were some of the cities that reportedly placed bids to host regular season. The NHL is now considering a tournament-style format to award the Stanley Cup.
New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported on Thursday afternoon the Rangers would be part of this “Tournament” when the league resumes. The 24 team format would consist of the top 12 teams in each conference that have a .500 record or better. The team’s record at the time of the pause was 37-28-5.
Why the change of format?
The league’s original idea to host games at four cities has run into several issues. The first of which are teams that have no chance of making the layoffs would have to participate in some kind of training camp, then complete the season playing in meaningless games. These clubs would have to be quarantined for almost five to six weeks risking their health along the way.
Eliminating the conclusion of the regular season would allow the NHL to set up a Draft Lottery for the seven teams that wouldn’t make the tournament to determine who would get the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Covid-19 testing is another important reason the league’s view has shifted. Eliminating seven teams now would help the NH and teams when it comes down to testing as they would need fewer tests to be completed. The teams would need to do weekly testing to verify the control of the COVID pandemic.
Great news for the Blueshirts
The original format circulating last month had the top six teams in each division participating in the new tournament playoff. The Rangers would have missed out on participating if this was used. Should this new format be the one the league goes with, head coach David Quinn will have made the playoffs in his second year behind the bench and just two and a half years after the infamous “letter” was sent to the fans announcing the organizations rebuild.
The story can now be completed, one that could see Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, and the dynamic duo of defenseman Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren lead the team to its first playoff hockey games since the 2016-’17 season. Rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin will get to experience his first taste of playoff hockey, but fans may have seen the face of the franchise play his last game prior to the shutdown.
After 15 incredible years leading the Rangers onto the ice, Henrik Lundqvist may not get another opportunity to salute Rangerstown. Shesterkin was named the number-one goalie in February and with a tournament-style playoff, the King may only dress as a backup as the Shesterkin will most certainly play every game.
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