Tuesday afternoon brought the most hockey news fans have seen in months as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released the league’s “Return to Play” plan that doesn’t guarantee the league will resume its 2019-2020 season, but lays out exactly how the league would do things if games were to resume in the next two months. There are a million and one moving parts that one is able to hunt down and read about, but here are the absolute basics:
- The regular season is over. 24 teams will enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the top four records in each conference (including the Stars in the West) having a first round bye. Seven of the league’s 31 teams will not be in the postseason.
- Each conference will play in one “hub city” and Dallas is among the ten finalists for one of those two spots.
Again, there is so much more to get to, but our Stars staff as DSF wanted to share our thoughts on the first light at the end of the hockey tunnel.
Do I start growing a playoff beard now or how does this work?
— Jamie Benn (@jamiebenn14) May 26, 2020
After looking over the details of the return to play proposal, how do you feel about the ideas laid out?
Garrett Jones: I think this is the best option given the circumstances. The seven teams excluded from the expanded postseason are understandably upset, but let’s be honest- we don’t need lowly Detroit adding risk by playing for nothing. Moreover, this gives them an opportunity for closure, and likely more of an advantage with extra rest if the 2020-21 season gets going at the rumored January 1, 2021 date. At the top, it gives teams like Dallas, who rightfully earned a top-four seed with strong play in the regular season, an opportunity to get back into shape and get a nice payoff with the potential of a higher seed in the round robin tournament.
Dylan Duell: Obviously there are no perfect plans, but I think this is about as well thought-out of a plan that could’ve been prepared. The shortened first round series (best of five) will certainly be interesting and the byes for the teams that earned higher seeds based on regular season performance definitely make sense. The hub cities idea is certainly interesting and would be fun for DFW to host even if no fans or media are allowed to attend games.
What do you think of the break the Stars seem to have caught in regards to how they could be seeded with the regular season officially being over?
Garrett: If given the option- Stars fans would’ve definitely taken the chance at falling to a bubble team in the Western Conference playoff picture over what will be a three-month lapse in the sport. But, since this is the way things happened, everyone involved with the Stars will take it. The team was on a five-game losing streak and hadn’t won in March when the season was put on pause, and simply could not score. This lengthy lapse in play will take time to recover- but it also gives the Stars time to rest, heal and for interim head coach Rick Bowness to implement new strategy. In my eyes, since they wound up with a top seed, the Stars are the team that benefits the most from this proposal.
Dylan: Like Garrett said, the Stars have certainly caught a break based on how poorly they were playing heading into when the season suddenly halted back on March 12th. With a late season collapse to miss the playoffs not too far in the past, things were definitely getting tense around Dallas as the puck continued to not be able to find the net. With now a first round bye and the potential of being able to sleep in their own beds every night all the way through the Western Conference playoffs, the Stars certainly have to be feeling good about their chances if the season resumes.
Just based off your knowledge of the hockey scene in DFW, what do you think of the possibility of Dallas being named at a potential hub city?
Garrett: I think it’s a more than capable fit- and I’m not alone. There’s no question that people in Dallas are interested in the sport. At the 2020 Winter Classic in January, commissioner Gary Bettman told us “Hockey is alive in well in Dallas.” Dallas’ record-setting turnout at the Cotton Bowl is a clear sign that interest abounds regarding the sport- especially given unique events like the playoff hub hosting would be. The city also boasts a swath of downtown dining and hotel options- plenty to host all 24 teams. Problems include a lack of public transit, and, if the season goes well into the summer months like anticipated, the heat will be unbearable for players unfamiliar with the area.
Dylan: While there are certainly enough high quality rinks in the area with the American Airlines Center, Comerica Center in Frisco and the various Starcenters around the Metroplex, I would think there are other cities more commonly associated hockey that have those same type of rinks a lot closer to their downtown area. The more “pristine” playing facility would be the Stars official practice facility at the Comerica Center in Frisco: 27 miles away from the AAC. The closest Starscenter is 12 miles north of the AAC in Farmers Branch. Without much research, I’d have to think there would be cities with quality rinks bunched closer together.
Stars president Brad Alberts on Dallas being considered for a hub city. pic.twitter.com/KK39SRKR1J
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) May 26, 2020
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