NHL

Ice Cold Takes: Three ways the NHL could award the Stanley Cup this summer

Ice Cold Takes is a weekly NHL humor column that will try to continue for as long as possible without the NHL.

It’s going to be a long time before we see NHL hockey again. The spread of COVID-19 is still in its early stages and the NHL has expressed that whatever it does, it will not sacrifice next season’s 82 games. That doesn’t bode well for the summer playoff series idea that’s been floating around.

What should the league do, then? Not awarding a Stanley Cup in some capacity would be disastrous. Unfortunately, you can’t just give the Cup to the President’s Trophy leader, either. This would rob everyone of the satisfaction of watching Toronto fans live through another first round exit.

Assuming the pandemic continues for months and not weeks, here are some ideas as to how to salvage this NHL season.

Shortened playoffs

Play every team up to 72 games as a tune-up then start a shortened playoff. Each series will be a best of three instead of a best of seven. If time allows, the Stanley Cup final could be a best of five or seven.

Given that there isn’t a gym open in the world right now, the players aren’t going to be in the best shape. Sure, some have home gyms and equipment, but let’s be real, how many of us are actually using it? (Zdeno Chara definitely is).

Zdeno Chara and Kaden. Kaden is very clearly using this time to get in shape. The shorter-but-full playoffs is looking more and more like a pipe dream. Much like your idea that this quarantine was going to be the time you got into the best shape of your life. Next!

Extremely shortened playoffs

Let’s say we’re well into July before it’s safe to play again. This is where we implement “the tournament;” 30 teams (sorry Detroit) enter a single elimination tournament bracket, March Madness style. First round byes go to Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues for being first in their respective conferences.

Each round is single elimination. Teams play every two nights anyway, so this wouldn’t take more than a week and a half, with the games spaced out for our viewing pleasure. Surely there would be calls for an asterisk on the Cup, but it’s still better than not having one, right?

The gigantic benefit to this format would be the excitement added from having teams like the Chicago Blackhawks involved. The ‘Hawks are trash in an 82-game season but tell me that team of veteran studs couldn’t win any given game?

The Toronto Maple Leafs would play the New York Rangers, who can score as well as any team and have a season series 2-1 lead. Imagine if the Leafs had yet another first round exit, even with a completely different format?

Stanley Cup Final

I don’t care if it comes down to a single series. We can NOT waste another chance for Patrice Bergeron to win a Stanley Cup. Let the players get into shape for a week then fire up a Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and Blues. It’ll build on the rivalry that began last season and it’s better than not having a Cup champion.

Does this suck for the other teams who worked hard to get a playoff spot? Sure. But they should have worked harder.

Survivor

There’s only so much we can discuss without any sports on television on NHL news to make fun of. Everyone should be watching Survivor. If you aren’t watching the world’s best reality television show (always has been, always will be) then let me be your social distancing savior.

Season 40 of Survivor features 40 past winners. It’s been absolutely insane so far and there have only been a handful of episodes, so everyone can catch up before next Wednesday. Just do it, please, so we can all hang out on Twitter and talk about something competition related again.

Don’t lie, you aren’t doing anything productive in isolation and for me to continue writing this on a weekly basis, we’re going to need some talking points. You all have a week to get caught up on Survivor: Winners at War before I rant about it every Friday in here.

Final notes

Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who earned his riches off of concessions stands, is still holding out on paying his concession staff. This man is worth almost $4 billion. It pains me that he is tied to the Bruins because wow, this guy is a piece of sh*t.

The NHL released “NHL Pause Binge” today, which allows you to watch their massive archive of past NHL games. Naming it “NHL Pause Binge” is worth making fun of, however I don’t want to insult the 95-year-old who tried their best coming up with it.

Happy Birthday to the greatest to ever play the game, Robert Gordon Orr.

Related Story: A reminder that the NHL playoff format is stupid

Keep your head up.

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