As the coronavirus (COVID-19) has become a pandemic, the sports world as a whole has basically come to a standstill as many major sports leagues have either announced postponements or cancellations to their events for the foreseeable future.
The NHL followed suit Thursday, as the league announced that play will be suspended due to the spread of the virus, but hopes to resume play “as soon as it is appropriate and prudent”, according to a statement from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
This announcement comes with Minnesota still having 13 games remaining on their regular-season schedule, as they currently sit one measly point out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Nashville currently holds claim to the second and final position at 78 points and also has 13 games left in their schedule. Both teams were set to meet twice more this season — once on March 15 and again on April 4, with the April matchup being the final regular-season matchup for both teams.
The NHL now faces a huge dilemma on what to do next, as there is no true timetable on when play will resume. In initial reaction, it is a positive that the league is showing an intrigue to resume play at some point. For one, it bodes well for teams — like Minnesota — still battling for a final playoff spot. At this point, it seems plausible that we will see hockey again this season.
But still, nothing is certain.
Another key factor to this situation, though, primarily dealing with the Western Conference, is the fact that the Winnipeg Jets, who currently hold the first wild card spot, only have 11 games remaining on their schedule. They’ve had more chances at points than their competition, which, in theory, would give them an unfair advantage if the season were to end today due to COVID-19.
If and when the decision to resume the season is made, that huge circumstance must be considered, or there could be an asterisk on the season from fans and players’ perspectives on their team’s chances to make the postseason if that is infringed upon by these unfortunate events.
One way to make in-roads with this situation would be for the league to reset the schedule and give each team an equal amount of games to play when things begin again. For example, if the Wild, who are two games behind Winnipeg in games played, are given five games left in the regular season, then Winnipeg should be given three. This solution would give each team an equal amount of times to earn points. This format, despite it taking a ton of number crunching, would be the fairest way for each team to get an equal chance to play their way into the playoffs.
Needless to say, this is only one solution, and there are many more than can be assumed. Sound off in the comments below on this suggestion and also feel free provide your own.
Stick with Hockey Wilderness as this developing situation materializes. Stay healthy out there, folks.