NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is digging in: His league won't be cancelling the 2019-20 season.
But what will that exactly mean? That is what NESN play-by-play Bruins announcer Jack Edwards surfaced when appearing on OMF with Glenn Ordway, Lou Merloni and Christian Fauria.
"All I hear is that Gary Bettman is still thinking they are still going to play, but every day that passes I think the chances of having a legitimate Stanley Cup winner diminish," Edwards said. "That’s not to say that could not happen but for me, they have got to ramp up their games. They have got to have a three-week training camp at least because nobody has skated in two months except a few Swedes who went home. You have to get your skating legs back under you. And then you’ve got to play a couple of games that mean something, that count in the standings before you get into the playoffs just because the quality of play coming out of the bye week, one week off skates, is often really crappy hockey. It’s not teams playing within their systems. You don’t want to jeopardize the validity of the Stanley Cup to a series of fluky first-round knockouts. I know there are always upsets in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs but I think this opens the door if they go straight to playoffs of delegitimizing the Stanley Cup champion possibly.
"What are you playing for? You’re playing for the championship of all of hockey and to go straight into the playoffs where goals are precious. By the way, the referees haven’t reffed a game in two months and the calls are always controversial and to introduce that much of a variable into the equation, it doesn’t bode well just looking at it. A reasonable period, at least two or three games, have to happen before they start playing playoff game but I don’t know how you resolve that."
Then there is the case of the Bruins.
Bruce Cassidy's team carried the NHL's best record at the time of the coronvirus-induced shutdown, but, as Edwards points out, this hiatus figures to put a dent in the Bruins' hopes not only this season but in 2020-21 as well.
"That is really the darkest cloud over this Bruins team right now if you choose to see the clouds over the blue sky because Patrice Bergeron is a year older," Edwards sad. "David Krejci is a year older. Tuukka Rask is still in the fat of his prime of his career. But Zdeno Chara? He is saying all the right things and the guy is 43 years old and there haven’t been too many really good NHL defensemen at Age 44. And the game is getting faster. It even got faster during the regular season this season. So I don’t know how many kicks at the can they are going to get with this core. This is probably the last one or the next to last one if they can squeeze another year out of these guys and keep them all healthy."