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FTB: Hockey leagues provide updates as world remains on pause

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and #NationalPuppyDay

NHL: MAR 04 Maple Leafs at Flames
CALGARY, AB - MARCH 04: A guide dog watches warm ups before an NHL game where the Calgary Flames hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 4, 2019, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This FTB has been broken up into three parts.

Part 1: News
Part 2: Fun stuff
Part 3: A personal request


News

On Monday, it was announced that the CHL announced that the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL regular seasons, playoffs, and the Memorial Cup (scheduled in Kelowna, BC in late May) were cancelled.

This is a big hit for the consortium of leagues that rely heavily on increased turnout in the playoffs and the international event that is the Mem Cup. Unfortunately, as we see more leagues cancel their regular and postseasons, it’s quickly becoming apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic is not going to be dealt with by the summer.

In recent days, there has been plenty of speculation as to when and how the NHL is going to return to action. Everyone wants to see the Stanley Cup be awarded, and to a lesser extent, the regular season finish with something close to 82 games.

The NHL released a Q&A-style FAQ article regarding the pause. It goes over what’s been happening to the players, but more interestingly, the league’s official stances on how they want to finish this season and start next season. None of this information is new to us, but with yesterday’s news, this paragraph seems particularly interesting.

“If the NHL playoffs go into July and/or August, could there be a shortened regular season next year?

No. We do not anticipate a scenario in our resumption of play format that would endanger or interfere with the League’s ability to stage and execute the 2020-21 NHL season in its entirety.” - [NHL PR]

Essentially, if the playoffs can’t be made within a reasonable timeframe, the league is prepared to sacrifice the 2019-20 season in order to have a full 2020-21 season. It’s fair logic; you don’t want to lose money two years in a row. The current NHL playoffs take about two and a half months, if the league is willing to play until latest July, that gives an approximate deadline for games to start by the start of May. And that doesn’t even include practices. I can’t see them pulling it off.

But, then again, one-game knockouts March Madness style would be insanely chaotic and entertaining. Every night is a Game 7. Wait, no, go back.

Another bit of news that didn’t get much attention was the AHL sent an email to all their AHL.tv subscribers with an heads up on potential compensation credits if the season was to be cancelled. You can read the content of the email below.

On March 12th, the American Hockey League announced the indefinite suspension of play due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. This suspension of play will not be lifted before May.
Any update on credits toward your account for missed games will be provided directly to AHLTV subscribers when a decision is made on the 2019-20 season.
Subscribers will still enjoy all the features and functionality of the system, including watching all past games on-demand while play is suspended.
Thank you for your support of the AHL and AHLTV.

As of right now, the AHL is suspended. They released that statement on March 12th (aka a million years ago), just after the NHL announced their intent to suspend the season earlier the same day. The ECHL has been cancelled since the 14th.

On a brighter note, the CHL closing its doors to the season will likely spark a whole load of junior hockey players signed to NHL or AHL contracts. That includes NHL draftees and overagers looking for a professional organization to try them out.

The Maple Leafs have a few decisions to make in terms of their drafted players — Riley Stotts, Filip Kral, and Zachary Bouthillier are all set to become UFAs on June 1st. Mikhail Abramov was recently signed to an NHL contract, while Nick Robertson and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev are both junior players on NHL season.

We’ll keep an eye out for those overagers who the Leafs invited to Development Camp last summer in case any of them impressed enough for a minor league deal. It’s a shame Gunnarwolfe Fontaine is in the NCAA for the time being. I would’ve loved to have written that signing article.


Fun Stuff

First off, the worst-kept secret in sports.

No, not that speed walkers actually leave the ground with both feet all the time.

Tessa Virtue and Morgan Rielly are official!

You can see their full Instagram Live with Kyle’s best friend who also heads the Arkells.

And speaking of Kyle Dubas, he’s spending a lot of time on Twitter. For example, this thread!

DOGS! DOGS! DOGS!

But seriously, can I marry Frederik Gauthier?


And lastly, a proposal to the NHL (with a really long wind up).

I don’t know if anyone else has been feeling this way, but it’s been really hard for me to focus on hockey during this pause. I’ve noticed recently that all my news (and thus social media reaction to the news) comes from the hockey sphere. I learn about things from the secondary hobbies of the people I follow, because their first hobby is hockey. I read about how things locally or around the world affect hockey.

That’s my day-to-day. So when something like this happens, hockey and this new coronavirus become intertwined, and I feel like I need a full withdrawal from both in order to not let it take me over. It’s been really hard for me to think about the hockey world as a result, which has been really hard because I need other escapes.

I’m lucky to have picked up motor racing (Formula 1 in particular) a couple years ago as another sport to watch and the maturity of its online game is super exciting to dive into. And with all of real-life sports on hold, we’re seeing professional drivers race amateurs and e-drivers, and it’s been really fun to see how they all stack up. This virtual Grand Prix on Sunday was great for all those reasons.

I would love to see the NHL adopt something like this. Invite as many hockey players, online gamers, and anyone else interested and have them play some all-star games. The online racing community has a really good (relatively speaking) online set-up of servers and such, so it might be a little difficult, but it’s worth a try! I would love to see it.