The New Jersey Devils aren’t happy as other teams return to play.
The New Jersey Devils have said they are not happy with how it appears they will be without hockey until possibly 2021. The Devils did not make the 24-team return-to-play tournament, so their season ends immediately. With the postseason possibly going into October, the Devils would not be able to even see the ice until December at the very earliest. That means they’d have to wait until January before seeing a game that counts. After how this past season went, the Devils fans are starved for a do-over, and they have to wait longer than any other season in history to get that.
Early talk means the Devils would have to wait up to 300 days between games. Think about that, players with torn ACLs come back before then. This is an insane amount of time for one player to go without hockey, let alone multiple teams. The Devils are one of seven teams looking this long layoff in the face.
What if there was a way to cut this layoff down?
So, right now seven teams are out of it completely. Of the 24 teams left with a chance to play for the Stanley Cup, eight will be gone within 10 days. 10 days of hockey is not a lot. So, is it really necessary to make close to half the league sit out until January when they are all going to be done in August? We’re making the schedule based on two teams who make it to the Stanley Cup.
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Yes, we always make the schedule based on who makes the Stanley Cup, but on a normal season, the teams that miss the playoffs usually go 170 days without competitive hockey. Going almost double that is asking for the teams at the bottom to stay there.
So, we’ve attempted to come up with a solution that could work for everyone. Start the season for the seven teams that missed the playoffs and the eight that were knocked out in the play-in round on November 20th.
The Devils and all the other teams could cut their 300-day by 70 games. 230 days without hockey isn’t great, but it’s much better than 300. It’s also much closer to the normal 170-day offseason.
The NHL could get some of the matchups between those teams out of the way, then just have the teams playing one to two games per week. It would allow those teams to get some game action without putting the schedule in absolute flux. That means teams like the Devils would get six or seven games ahead of the teams that make the playoffs. We’ll say 10 at most. The schedule makers would have their work cut out for them, but this is going to be one of those years that’s hard no matter what happens. This just seems like a way to make things fairer.
So, if the Devils have 10 games in the can (at most) when half the league starts its season, that means they have to catch up. If those teams have three weeks during the season where the other teams play a normal three, that already makes up six of those games. The other four can easily be made up during scheduling.
There are a lot of things that would have to be worked out. If, say, the St. Louis Blues make it to the Stanley Cup Finals then the Buffalo Sabres sign Alex Pietrangelo, how would that work? He needs more than a month off. It also changes the timetable for the draft and free agency in general.
This just seems like one way to cut the ridiculous layoff for the teams that missed the cut. There are some things to work out here, but at least when it comes to the schedule this would be easily worked out and severely cuts the layoff time for teams. On top of that, it gives those who are fans of the game of hockey something to watch for six weeks before their favorite team’s season starts. Then, the NHL can start everyone’s season with the Winter Classic, giving some serious meaning to the New Year’s Day event.