The NHL season is currently suspended thanks to the novel coronavirus. Things are very much up in the air at this point, with the NHL extending the isolation period to April 6th yesterday. No one knows when the season will be back, if it even will. In this past week’s FanPulse poll we asked fans what they think will happen.
Fans are still largely optimistic that there will be a Stanley Cup Champion for this season. There have been only two seasons without a Stanley Cup Champion, one due to a lockout, the other due to the Spanish Flu. But while a majority of fans do think that the cup will be rewarded, a significant percentage do not believe that will happen. The longer the season is suspended, the less likely the cup will continue.
Fans are far less optimistic about the regular season continuing. At this point, we are just over a week from when the regular season should have ended, and the chances of the NHL having an 82-game season is getting smaller and smaller each passing week. Even if the regular season is canceled that doesn’t necessarily mean that the playoffs won’t happen.
Over 2/3rds of fans who responded think that the playoff format will be changed in some ways. Most fans think that the regular season won’t continue but that the Stanley Cup will be awarded so it makes sense that the playoff format will need to change to accommodate that. There are plenty of proposed format changes out there, and if the NHL goes this route it will be interesting to see what the NHL does.
No one knows what the playoff is going to look like, but fans seem almost-equally split on the idea of “play-in” games. Depending on how it shapes out “play-in” games could help the Arizona Coyotes, who were outside a Wild Card spot before the season was suspended, but were still within reach of making it to the post-season.
Gary Bettman recently stated that there are no plans to shorten the 2020-21 season. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen, but the NHL has made their message clear. I imagine that the NHL is working behind the scenes to make that happen, although fans do not know anything at this point. Numerous proposed playoff formats could push back the start time but fans seem hopeful that it will start as normal.
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Make sure you sign up for FanPulse shows if you haven’t already by going here. Polls range from league-wide topics like this one, and ones that feature the Coyotes specifically. Signing up is completely free and a great way to be involved.