Report: NHL prioritizing regular-season games, could condense playoffs
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The NHL's "preference and its priority" is to hold regular-season games before the postseason begins, sources on Monday's Board of Governors call told TSN's Pierre LeBrun.
"Whether that's 82 (games) - probably not - 78, 76, 74, all possibilities mentioned on that call," LeBrun said on Thursday's edition of "Insider Trading."
Teams around the league have already played as many as 71 games and as few as 68. Players on squads both inside the current playoff picture and outside of it have said they want some regular-season contests before the playoffs begin. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, on the other hand, have both said they'd be open to going straight to the postseason.
Additionally, time potentially used on finishing the regular season could carve into the league's ability to hold a full postseason. The eventual - and hopeful - Stanley Cup champion may not have to win the usual 16 games to hoist the trophy.
During the same episode of "Insider Trading," TSN's Darren Dreger reported that in a "flash poll" with 24 general managers, 20 supported the idea of best-of-five series from the first round through the conference final, but they want a seven-game Stanley Cup Final.
"A couple" GMs were not in favor of this idea, arguing the playoffs have to be left the way it is with seven-game series all the way through. However, some executives were more open-minded.
"One GM said a best-of-three in Round 1, a best-of-five in Round 2, and then best-of-seven for the conference final and Stanley Cup Final," Dreger said. "And then one creative general manager suggested one-game series for the first three rounds, then a best-of-three in the Stanley Cup Final."
Of course, none of this can be decided upon until there's a clear resumption date. That will ultimately decide how the postseason needs to be condensed - if there's time for any hockey at all.
The NHL also reportedly mentioned Grand Forks, North Dakota, as a possible neutral site venue for games.