Chris Cuthbert could go from zero to 70 in a hurry.
Canada’s best play-by-play broadcaster jumped from TSN to Sportsnet Friday and went from zero CFL games and zero hockey games to as many as he wants a day from the three-games-per-day schedule at an NHL Hub City every day for the better part of three months.
The game count is rising and the Hub City eligible cities count appears to be dropping with so many American NHL cities doubling down with protests and / or riots combined with coronavirus pandemic numbers and forgotten social distancing.
The potential game count for a Hub City is getting staggering. And the projected date of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final is getting closer to Halloween than to Labour Day.
The news Thursday was that the players got what they wanted. But it may turn out to be one of those ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ deals.
After the best-of-five ‘Play-In’ series to determine the 16 teams the players insisted on being able to compete in normal Stanley Cup playoffs. If you can call playing them in August and September and now clearly into October in empty buildings all in the same arena as being anything resembling “normal”.
The players asked and were granted a traditional four full sets of best-of-seven series and here’s to them for that.
The option was to play best-of-five series in the first two rounds after the best-of-five ‘play-in’ series and then proceed to best-of-seven Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final.
Some people are already calling this the COVID Cup, but to me, four full sets of best-of-seven series would help take the asterisk off it.
So three cheers for the players for insisting on the full meal deal.
Other than a modest, by their pay levels, amount of playoff prize money involved, they don’t get paid to play in the playoffs. Clearly they didn’t vote just to get this over with as quickly as possible.
As the calendar turned to June the return of players to town to open training camp is not projecting forward in most NHL cities below the border despite the decision to allow players to skate in their own training centres beginning next week.
That’s not apparently a big deal to the NHL as the league appears quite comfortable returning to open the 2020-2021 regular season in December.
When it opens they want paying customers in the stands.
But consider the length of this playoff year after the news Thursday, it could now go on for almost three months after it begins.
That’s because of the other win by the NHLPA, the decision to not use the bracketing concept promoted by commissioner Gary Bettman and adopted for use in 2013-14. Instead they’ll re-seed after every round.
That could conceivably add another couple of weeks to proceedings.
In the bracket system, if two teams swept second round series, for example, they could begin a well-spaced third round series against each other. Now they might both end up sitting around for seven or eight days waiting for a seventh game to end to find out who they’ll be playing in the following round.
If you are planning on being in the Stanley Cup final, bring your golf clubs.
Whatever, with Edmonton with no riots and COVID-19 key daily numbers of new cases and intensive care beds in use down to double figures, remaining ranked as a favourite as a Hub City as long as the federal government allows teams to fly in charter flights here from their quarantine situations at training camp, consider the game count for each hub going forward.
Each club will be allowed to play two exhibition games coming out of training camp.
It had been assumed by many that these exhibitions would be played elsewhere. But now, I’m told, the plan is to have a two week training camp followed by the trip to the Hub City and the two exhibition games there.
Makes sense to me. You’d have to figure you’d want them in the safest possible conditions. I mean do you really want Colorado flying to Dallas to play an exhibition game before they both fly to, say, Edmonton?
Anyway, that would be 12 games.
The eight teams involved in the ‘play-ins’ in each hub could play 20 games if all four series went five games.
Now you’re up to 32 games.
Plus there would be the six round robin games in the separate little event involving the top four teams — St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas in the West.
Now you’re up to 38 games.
Add four more seven game series in the first round, two more in the second and then the Conference Final and that’s 49 more games.
That’s a potential 87 games in EACH hub city before the Stanley Cup Final.
OK, they’re not all going to go seven. But you get the idea. If they were all sweeps, it would be 59. The over-under would likely be 75.
It might make an interesting prop bet.
Including overtimes, prior to the Stanley Cup Final, how many periods of hockey will be played in each Hub City?
How many will Chris Cuthbert call?
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