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Would an NHL team really tank the Play-In round?

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On Friday, the NHL had it’s annual Draft Lottery to determine which team will get to draft the first overall pick in 2020. The consensus first overall pick, Alexis Lafreniere, was on the broadcast (via video call) and sat there for 30 minutes only to still not know which team is going to pick him!

The Ottawa Senators won the third overall pick (though it felt like a loss since they are picking third and fifth even though their pick odds were second- and third-best in the lottery).

The Los Angeles Kings moved up to take the second spot and the chance to draft sure-fire a franchise center in Quinton Byfield.

And then the first overall pick went to…

 

 

 

 

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY – JUNE 26: National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announces draft positions during Phase 1 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery on June 26, 2020 at the NHL Network’s studio in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/NHLI via Getty Images

 

THE NHL?!?! No, almost, kinda. It went to one of the Return to Play teams that has yet to be determined. Once the Play-In round happens, the eight losers will be thrown into a second lottery where they’ll all have equal chances at landing the first overall pick.

The Colorado Avalanche are not among these teams eligible as they finished high enough in the Conference to earn a bye through the Play-In, one of eight teams in the league to do so.

So when the NHL starts playing games and the middle 16 teams in the league are fighting for their playoff lives and a chance to play the top eight teams in the league, they’ll have in their head, “if we lose, we get a pretty good shot at a top-tier left winger.”

That seems like quite a conundrum for teams and is a pretty bad look for the NHL. You don’t want incentive for teams to lose.

And yet here it is. So what should teams do?

The Odds

Dom L. of The Athletic has a statistical model of the NHL and has created odds for each Play-In team to win the first overall pick. It’s their odds of losing to their Play-In opponent multiplied by their odds for the lottery, 12.5%. As you can see, the Blue Jackets and Leafs are on opposite ends of the chart because Dom has the Leafs as major favorites in their series.

Dom also has odds for who’s most likely to win the Stanley Cup. In this one, Tampa Bay is the heavy favorite and Colorado is down in ninth. Roughly speaking, the Avalanche have poor odds against who they’re most likely to play in the second and fourth rounds. He doesn’t think they match up well against the East. Again, you can see who the Avalanche are likely to play against in this article here.

Pros to Tanking

So for a team like the Leafs, the odds of winning the Cup or getting Lafreniere is about equal. 5% vs. 4.5%. For the Columbus Blue Jackets, it’s almost 0% to 8%. And during a pandemic, does a team even want to go through a long, unlikely, and potentially harmful slog through the playoffs if they can sit at home and improve their team massively with a few lottery balls? Every single team on that first list could use a star left winger (or Quinton Byfield if they’re getting wild).

  • Better odds of the first overall pick then of the Cup
  • Reduces COVID-19 health risks
  • Just need to win one lottery vs. four rounds of playoffs

Cons to Tanking

I don’t know the specific rules behind how the Host City system is going to work, and I don’t think the NHL knows either. I’ve tried to find out if eliminated teams will be allowed to go home or if they’ll be stuck in the bubble until the Stanley Cup is awarded. There are some pros to this, for example at least they’ll have someone in attendance. The Eastern Conference eliminated teams cheering on the Western Conference champion (the Avalanche). For that, I don’t completely know if teams would be allowed to go home and would therefore be safer than in a hockey bubble where hundreds, or maybe over a thousand people are interacting with each other.

As for the “integrity of the game,” every single hockey player has been hardwired to win, to not tank or intentionally lose. In the rare cases this has been done, it’s been a major scandal. I doubt any coach or player would be on board, even if the GM is salivating at the first overall pick. It would be hard to coerce players into losing on purpose.

  • No player would ever do it
  • GM would get flamed for proposing it
  • It’s possible teams would have to remain in the bubble even after eliminated

I think we’re going to get a lot of finger-pointing and chaos after the Play-In round when we find out the winners and losers. The lack of talent discrepancy among most of the teams in the Play-In plus the classic hockey randomness factor, there’s going to be a lot of interesting teams in the mix for the first overall pick. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), none of them will be the Avalanche.

Poll

Which would you rather win this year if you were a Play-In team?

  • 74%
    Stanley Cup

    (119 votes)

  • 25%
    First Overall Pick

    (40 votes)



159 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Would you try to tank if you were a GM/Coach/Player?

  • 20%
    Yes

    (27 votes)

  • 79%
    No

    (104 votes)



131 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which team do you think will pick first this year?

  • 5%
    Columbus (aka Flavortown)

    (8 votes)

  • 24%
    Montreal

    (34 votes)

  • 13%
    Arizona

    (18 votes)

  • 7%
    Winnipeg

    (11 votes)

  • 7%
    NY Rangers

    (11 votes)

  • 2%
    Florida

    (4 votes)

  • 10%
    Chicago

    (14 votes)

  • 1%
    Minnesota

    (2 votes)

  • 1%
    Vancouver

    (2 votes)

  • 8%
    Edmonton

    (12 votes)

  • 2%
    NY Islanders

    (3 votes)

  • 0%
    Carolina

    (1 vote)

  • 1%
    Calgary

    (2 votes)

  • 1%
    Nashville

    (2 votes)

  • 5%
    Pittsburgh

    (7 votes)

  • 5%
    Toronto

    (7 votes)



138 votes total

Vote Now

Source:- Mile High Hockey

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NHL, players’ association reach tentative agreement on protocols to resume season

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The NHL and NHL Players’ Association agreed Sunday on protocols to resume the season, a major step toward the return of hockey this summer.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press there was an agreement on protocols for training camps and games and the sides are still negotiating an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, which is crucial to the process.

A person with knowledge of the situation said the return-to-play protocols would only go into effect if each side votes to approve the full package of the CBA extension and return-to-play agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because CBA talks are still ongoing.

To complete a return, two-thirds of the league’s board of governors and majorities of the players’ executive committee and full membership must vote in favour.

If everything is ratified, it will end a pandemic-forced shutdown that began in mid-March. Games would resume in late July or early August with 24 teams taking part in an expanded playoffs, finishing with the Stanley Cup being awarded in October.

The agreement was first reported by TSN.

The 47 pages of protocols outline the health and safety measures the league and players agreed to after several weeks of negotiations. Any player has until 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday to notify his team if he’s choosing to opt out of participating in training camp and games, with an additional deadline expected after ratification of the agreement.

For those playing, each team is limited to 30 skaters and an unlimited amount of goaltenders for camp and total roster of up to 31 players for games. Each team is limited to 52 personnel in its game city, a group that must include two trainers, a doctor and compliance officer in addition players, coaches and management.

They are expected to be quarantined from the general public during play at least for the qualifying and first two traditional playoff rounds. Family members will be permitted to join when play is moved to one city for the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

All team and league employees plus hotel, restaurant and arena staff coming in contact with players will be tested daily in the two “hub” cities.

One player’s positive coronavirus test result is not expected to shut down play entirely. The league has said it would isolate any player or staff member who tests positive, acknowledging an outbreak would threaten the remainder of the season.

“The players will be pretty well-protected from being exposed,” Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said during a conference call in June. “It’s going to be a completely different way for you all and us watching hockey and being around a team because players will be really well protected throughout the process.”

The protocols include a provision for Commissioner Gary Bettman in consultation with NHLPA executive director Don Fehr to postpone, delay or cancel games in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Assuming the protocols are approved, teams are expected to open training camps July 13 before travelling to the two hub cities for games. Players have been able to skate and train off-ice in voluntary, small-group workouts since June 8 — nearly three months after hockey was halted March 12 with 189 regular-season games remaining.

Returning for the playoffs is seen as a stirring victory for the NHL, which like other top leagues faced the prospect of losing millions more without the television revenue tied to the post-season. There were deep concerns about cancelling the rest of the season and word of positive tests didn’t help: 26 players since June 8, in addition to almost a dozen before that.

Boston defenceman Matt Grzelcyk called the positive test results “eye-opening” but expected. A few players expressed concerns in recent weeks about the uncertainty surrounding a return.

“We have obviously a unique situation right now,” Montreal goaltender Carey Price said. “The NHL and the NHLPA are trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. Moving forward I’d like to play, but we have a lot of questions that need to be answered and a lot of scenarios that need to be covered.”

If the protocols and an CBA extension cover those scenarios for enough owners and players, there will be a path forward to hand out the Stanley Cup. Only twice since 1893 has the Cup not been awarded: in 1919, when the final couldn’t be completed because of the Spanish flu pandemic, and 2005 when the season was wiped out by a lockout.

 

 

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NHL, NHLPA tentatively agree on protocols to resume play as CBA talks continue – Sportsnet.ca

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The NHL and NHLPA have tentatively agreed on protocols to resume play, Sportsnet can confirm. The two sides continue to negotiate an extension to the collective bargaining agreement.

Once a CBA extension is agreed upon, the NHL’s board of governors and the full membership of the NHLPA will vote on both the extension and the return-to-play protocols that were agreed to on Sunday.

The newly agreed-upon protocols cover Phase 3 and 4 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, this includes a framework for how the return-to-play would be called off if the COVID-19 virus cannot be contained.

According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the return-to-play protocols include an opt-out clause for any player that does not want to resume play this season without penalty. He adds that coaches will not be required to wear face coverings on the bench during games and no dress code will be imposed upon players on game day.

Friedman also reports that the return-to-play protocols include a framework for how the league’s two hub cities will be enforced.

“Individuals leaving… without permission may be subject to consequences up to and including removal,” Friedman reports the agreement as saying, adding “violations… will result in, for clubs, significant penalties, potentially including fines and/or loss of draft choices.”

Additionally, Friedman reports that all players will undergo “a Pre-Participation Medical Examination.” If the doctor administring the exam and the team’s infectious disease expert determine a player is unfit to return to play due to the “substantial risk of developing a serious illness” from COVID-19, that player may seek a second opinion.

In May, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a framework for what return to play would look like and the two sides have been negotiating finer details ever since. The return-to-play format will see 24 teams return to the ice in two hub cities, each hosting one conference. The top four teams in each conference by points percentage at the time of the season pause in March will play each other to determine playoff seeding. The next eight teams in each conference have been paired up based on points percentage and will play best-of-five series to determine the other playoff spots.

The NHL initially was considering 10 cities to be hubs for these games, with Edmonton and Toronto expected to be chosen.

The NHL’s return plan has been broken down into four stages. Phase 1 began shortly after the season was suspended and saw all team facilities closed and players allowed to return home. Phase 2 began June 8 and is ongoing, with players allowed to return to team facilities to skate in small groups after testing negative for COVID-19. According to the NHL, from June 8 to 29, more than 250 players were tested under Phase 2 protocols and 15 tested positive. Additionally, 11 players tested positive outside of Phase 2 protocols in that same time period.

Phase 3 of the return plan would cover training camps for the returning teams and eventual travel to the hub cities while Phase 4 would cover playing games. Specific dates for the beginning of these phases won’t be determined until the CBA negotiation is complete and the board of governors and NHLPA membership approve the plans and CBA in a vote.

With files from The Associated Press

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NHL, NHLPA agree on protocols to resume season – CBC.ca

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The NHL and NHL Players’ Association agreed Sunday on protocols to resume the season, a major step toward the return of hockey this summer.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press there was an agreement on protocols for training camps and games and the sides are still negotiating an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, which is crucial to the process.

A person with knowledge of the situation said the return-to-play protocols would only go into effect if each side votes to approve the full package of the CBA extension and return-to-play agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because CBA talks are still ongoing.

To complete a return, two-thirds of the league’s board of governors and majorities of the players’ executive committee and full membership must vote in favour.

If everything is ratified, it will end a pandemic-forced shutdown that began in mid-March. Games would resume in late July or early August with 24 teams taking part in an expanded playoffs, finishing with the Stanley Cup being awarded in October.

The agreement was first reported by TSN.

Assuming approval from owners and players, teams are expected to open training camps July 13 before travelling to two “hub” cities for games. Players have been able to skate and train off-ice in voluntary, small-group workouts since June 8 — nearly three months after hockey was halted March 12 with 189 regular-season games remaining.

Returning for the playoffs is seen as a stirring victory for the NHL, which like other top leagues faced the prospect of losing millions more without the television revenue tied to the post-season. There were deep concerns about cancelling the rest of the season and word of positive tests didn’t help: 26 players since June 8, in addition to almost a dozen before that.

Boston defenceman Matt Grzelcyk called the positive test results “eye-opening” but expected. A few players expressed concerns in recent weeks about the uncertainty surrounding a return.

“We have obviously a unique situation right now,” Montreal goaltender Carey Price said. “The NHL and the NHLPA are trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. Moving forward I’d like to play, but we have a lot of questions that need to be answered and a lot of scenarios that need to be covered before I could vote yay or nay.”

Once play resumes, one player’s positive coronavirus test result is not expected to shut down play entirely. The league has said it would isolate any player or staff member who tests positive, acknowledging an outbreak would threaten the remainder of the season.

The league will be in charge of testing players daily once they get to their game city.

“The players will be pretty well-protected from being exposed,” Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said during a conference call in June. “It’s going to be a completely different way for you all and us watching hockey and being around a team because players will be really well protected throughout the process.”

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