NHL Heroes and Heels: Missing you, last week of the 2019-20 season

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 03: James Reimer #47 of the Carolina Hurricanes reacts after Charlie Coyle #13 of the Boston Bruins scored a goal during the third period at TD Garden on December 03, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Hurricanes 2-0. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 03: James Reimer #47 of the Carolina Hurricanes reacts after Charlie Coyle #13 of the Boston Bruins scored a goal during the third period at TD Garden on December 03, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Hurricanes 2-0. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Heroes and Heels is a weekly NHL column highlighting the heroes and villains of the last week of hockey. This week, we reminisce on the end of a season that could have been.

In an alternate universe, hockey would be continuing this week with the most exciting few days in the sport. Should the 2019-20 NHL season have continued this year, this week would be the last week of the regular season, which would have ended on April 4.

I always love the end of the regular season in hockey. For some teams that have already wrapped up a playoff spot, this week is one of rest and recuperation before the playoffs begin. For the handful of teams fighting for the wild card spots, however, every game feels like a playoff game as teams try to leapfrog one another for those precious postseason positions.

This week, we would have had high-tension matchups between teams like the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets, the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes, and the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators, among others. Though not necessarially rivalry matchups, all of those would have been between teams looking to secure a playoff spot by any means necessary.

Now, it’s just another day at the end of a March that has gone on for far too long. Miss you, hockey.

What I’m playing: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Persona 5 Royal, Overwatch

Hero: Player polls

Thank goodness for the NHL Players’ Association player poll. The NHLPA released their annual player poll on Tuesday, which lets hockey players weigh in on important issues such as which arena has the best visiting dressing room (spoiler alert: Edmonton) or who is the best all-around player (spoiler alert: Sidney Crosby).

One of the more interesting bits of information came from the fact that Brad Marchand was named the league’s best and worst trash-talker by players. It’s not a surprise really, considering how divisive Marchand is as a player, but still hilarious nonetheless.

Some of our other favorite tidbits of information we’ve gleaned from this player’s poll includes:

Gritty’s fame in the NHL is second-to-none, as he is by far the NHL’s most popular mascot. For good reason, as he’s really good at this social media thing.

The Chicago Blackhawks having the NHL’s best jersey — according to players — isn’t a surprise, but it is neat to see the Vegas Golden Knights get some love for their sweaters. Tying the Toronto Maple Leafs and beating out the New York Rangers classics is quite a feat, but it makes us hope that whatever the NHL cooks up for Seattle will be just as iconic.

I love how NHL players are just as obsessed with food-related nicknames as we are. David “Pasta” Pastrnak nearly came close to dethroning Tomas “Tuna” Tatar, but both carb nicknames on this list lost out in the end. I am amused that Christian Fischer‘s nickname was apparently a closely guarded secret in the Arizona Coyotes locker room until Brad Richardson spilled the beans.

"“It’s because he wears his underwear nine days in a row on a road trip,” Richardson said of Fischer. “You can’t do that. It’s inhumane. Take him to the humane society and put him down.”"


Heel: The lack of a perfect solution

Over the last week, various NHL players have been getting on Zoom calls to talk to members of the media about all sorts of topics. Overall, it’s been great to hear from the players as to what they’re doing in their spare time, alongside the chirps we’ve heard from players digging into one another.

However, there has been some news related to the restart of the 2019-20 NHL season. Players have talked about the idea of scrapping the regular season altogether — maybe the best option, considering the circumstances — or expanding the playoffs. However, not every player agrees.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno would like to see the regular season return before the playoffs begin, though he knows it may not be feasible. Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber doesn’t believe a 24-team playoff format, which has been proposed by players, is a fair idea to teams already in playoff spots.

Even Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan weighed in on the matter, saying it wouldn’t be fair to teams if the playoffs started immediately, as teams have played unequal amounts of games.

“Fair to me would be all teams play the same number of games both home and away,” MacLellan said. “Depending on the time you have, when or if we come back, you could set the schedule at 72, 74 games as close to possible home and away, if you could even those out, and go from there.”

Given the spread of players, coaches and general managers across the league, not everyone is going to agree on what to do if the season resumes. However, at the end of the day, a fair number of people are going to disagree with what the NHL does. Fans will likely be upset too, depending on who gets into the playoffs and who doesn’t, especially if there are no play-in games.

We have the time now to come to terms with whatever the NHL chooses to do if play resumes. It’s likely not going to be the most perfect solution, but given the circumstances, nothing about this season has gone the we had hoped it would back in October, and we have to live with that.

dark. Next. 5 best NHL playoff game sevens of the 2010s

Follow FanSided NHL for more news, analysis, opinion and unique coverage about hockey in all forms throughout the entire 2019-20 NHL season and beyond.