Rick Zamperin: NHL may return from COVID-19 with summer playoff run

The NHL has sent a memo indicating the league could resume on ice operations in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Humphrey

The news of the day is certainly heavy with surging COVID-19 cases, and deaths, in Canada and elsewhere.

So let’s think about something a little more uplifting — the return of hockey, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

The National Hockey League is forecasting a return to action by launching into the Stanley Cup playoffs in May, that’s if public health officials give the league the green light to do so amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The NHL sent out a memo Monday saying it hopes to open training camps in 45 days — on April 30 — and drop the puck as early as 10 days later.

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Given the fact that not every team has played the same amount of games, the prevailing thought is that the league would base its playoff seeding on points percentage as opposed to the current standings.

The points percentage scenario would move two teams who currently hold down a playoff spot — Columbus and Winnipeg — out of the post-season and would push the New York Islanders and Nashville into the playoff picture.

I’d imagine the league would proceed with its current playoff format that pits the division leaders against the two lowest seeds in the conference while the second and third-place teams in each division square off in round one.

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The alternative option would be to re-seed the playoff teams, one through eight, based on points percentage.

If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, neither option is that appealing considering they’d face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the current playoff format or the Washington Capitals in a re-seeded format.

Needless to say, we just want everything to go back to normal, in more ways that one.

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Edmonton Oilers address unprecedented impact of coronavirus pandemic on NHL operations

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