A month after the NHL was put on pause due to the efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus, there are few answers about how the league will proceed in the near future. At some point decisions on the draft and playoffs will come and will have an impact on the Colorado Avalanche.
First of all, hopefully everyone is staying safe. There are a lot of disruptions to daily life at the present moment, but what do you miss most about hockey?
Luke: All of it. Broad, I know, but pinpointing one thing is difficult. I miss all of it. From playoffs, playoff races, U-18s, the draft, the cup finals. I miss all of it. The adrenaline, excitement, speed, time with friends, an escape from everyday life. I miss all of it.
Tom: I miss playing it more than anything. My beer league was a week away from the start of the playoffs before things got shut down. Sunday nights just aren’t the same without getting on the ice (and having beers with the team afterwards).
Cat: I miss coaching. I work with a handful of 17-to-20-year-old goaltenders during the season and while we’ve been able to keep up with some dry land stuff, I really miss getting texts and notifications telling me how their games are going. I enjoy watching the NHL of course, and miss getting to see those games, but I really miss the pride that all of my younger goalies had in their seasons this year. Those texts were sometimes the highlight of my day.
Scott: I just miss the routine of it all. Not only watching it but waking up the next morning and writing about it, researching stats, drafting stories, etc. I probably miss going to practices the most and talking to the Eagles guys and feeling like I’m tapped in to what’s going on in Loveland.
Well, really, I just miss everything about it.
Jackie: A simple answer but I miss watching it. Those weekend days going through an Avs game, then Eagles and topping off with some Vancouver Giants can’t be replaced. With each game the season unfolds more information about each team, player and organization. Stopping everything really freezes all we know about the sport and I miss learning more each day.
Hardev: I miss the regularity of hockey. Getting to watch something every night and talk about it the next day. Right now I think a lot of groups are trying to come up with a schedule to keep each other entertained, but it’s not the same. Along with my daily life, finding a concrete schedule during these times are difficult.
What was your favorite moment of the Avalanche 2019-20 season (thus far)?
Jackie: A personal best memory for me was when I traveled to North Carolina to see the Avalanche play the Carolina Hurricanes in a 3-2 win. They lost the lead in a battle of momentum but Sam Girard scored the game winning goal with just minutes left is something I’ll always remember.
Luke: The Nashville beat down. 1) beating a division rival like that is always worth seeing & 2) After Duchene scored, the team just went off. And was like "Not in our house man!" I was up and watched that game with my daughter and just a great moment. Avs win, bonding with the baby. A great cap to a great day!
Cat: This is so tough! But I think that if I can cheat a little bit, I’ll say that my favorite part of this season has been Pavel Francouz’s success. He’s been crushing it.
Tom: Maybe I’ll get roasted for this, but mine is Nazem Kadri scoring his first goal as a member of the Avalanche. Kadri has always been one of my favorite players. I’ve been closely watching him play since he broke into the OHL 14 years ago. Being traded is never easy, particularly when you’re moving on from the only NHL team you’ve ever known (and the one you grew up watching) but Kadri couldn’t have landed in a more perfect spot. I’m not sure why, but watching this goal brings up something emotional in me.
Scott: It’s a toss-up between Martin Kaut’s first goal and Logan O’Connor’s first. Having known and talked to those guys since their rookie season in Loveland last year, it felt like a proud dad moment, if you will — even though we’re the same age. I just loved seeing the emotion — and the relief — of getting that first goal out of the way, particularly in Kaut’s case, given we had just talked after Eagles practice about how frustrated he was with his development.
What is your solution for the NHL 2020 entry draft?
Jackie: I would still conduct the draft based on current points-percentage based standings when it was originally scheduled at the end of June regardless if there is a resumption in play or not. The draft order still heavily skews to regular season standings and playoffs only really set the final four teams in slots 28-31. There just isn’t enough of a difference to put that on hold when it could be months later before playoffs are concluded. The kids need certainty especially during these times and to proceed with a large milestone event as scheduled would be helpful to everyone. Also, there’s no need to delay prospects getting in touch with the NHL club on what they need to work on and potentially push off the draft until their 2020-21 seasons begin, which would be another mess.
Luke: I would take the playoff teams and non-playoff teams and put them in 2 groups based on the standings today. The first: non playoff team. Run the lottery as normal and seed the teams 1 to 15. The second group: playoff teams. Each team gets equal weight and then do a lottery. BUT the top 3 teams of the 2nd group get to pick in the 4, 5 and 6 spot. This way, the bottom teams still get a good chance at top picks as normal, and the playoff teams don't get punished for not competing for the cup. Contenders get a shot at something worth while in a high pick and aren't punished for being good. Watching Colorado pick before New Jersey and Detroit is always fun!
Cat: I think, first and foremost, that the draft has to be held virtually like the NFL’s. I think the NHL should watch and see what the NFL does right, what they do wrong, and modify their own to make sure that it suits them as best as possible. As for the order? I think you hold the lottery for spots 1-15 as normal, but seed the playoff teams based on a regular season standing capped at 68 games (similar to how a playoff seed would work under Frank Seravalli’s proposal from TSN). Will it make some people mad? Sure. Is that just going to happen as things are right now? Probably.
Tom: I kinda like Luke’s idea for two lotteries - it’s something I hadn’t thought of. I would tweak it a little and give the winners of the playoff lottery picks 8, 9, 10. Whichever way they do it, we’re not going to see the draft happen until the current season is officially cancelled (it’s a matter of when, not if). The draft can’t happen before the “offseason” because it is a key time for any re-working of rosters through trade. You can’t be holding the draft until teams know they’re building the team for next season.
Scott: I’d say you still hold it at it’s regularly-scheduled time, regardless of if the season resumes at any point or not. If it doesn’t resume, I’d say you keep it simple and just roll with the order of the standings at the pause of the season. With just a dozen-ish games left for each team, I think it’s still fair to dole out the draft order as determined by the standings at the time of the season’s suspension.
Hardev: As soon as the NHL finishes the regular season (one way or another), stream the draft lottery on Twitch (or YouTube or whatever) and lock in the first 15 picks. As for the remaining 16 that are determined through the playoffs, I think it’s time we do away with that arrangement and just rank teams by how they finished in the league. In this scenario Colorado picks 29th, and Boston picks 31st. Free agency is whenever the playoffs are done (one way or another) and contracts are backdated to July 1st.
How would you set up the playoffs to conclude this season?
Luke: Assuming they went straight to playoffs, and started on June 1st... I would seed by win percentage. No more divisions: 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7 and so forth. Reseeding per round.
Tom: I wouldn’t. The NHL needs games for revenue purposes more than the other three major leagues, but at this point it’s simply not practical. The league has already proven they’re ok going a year without awarding the Stanley Cup, so for the safety of the players and everyone else involved, just stay away as long as possible and work towards an uninterrupted 2020-21 season.
Scott: I’m with Tom. I’ve been saying it since the season was postponed. Trying to figure out the scheduling nightmare it would be for playoffs, draft, awards, free agency period, etc. — there’s just too much to logistically figure out, and it’d be next to impossible, I think. We all want hockey back, sure, but I want it to feel normal. If the season returns at some point this season, it would be anything but normal. A Stanley Cup Final in August? No thanks. Free Agency deadline on Sept. 1? Nah. And then training camp somehow a couple weeks after that? Pass. I don’t think a timeline like that is good for the players either. These athletes need time to rest and recover in the offseason. There wouldn’t be an offseason if the NHL tried to resume at some point this year.
Just scrap the season — it sucks, but it is what it is.
Cat: Toss down another vote for scrapping the season. Do I hate it? Sure. Do I want to try to navigate how a playoff format would work, where it would work, how it would work, when, and what it would mean for free agency and the start-up of the upcoming season - especially given the current global health crisis? Nah. If the Stanley Cup isn’t awarded, the world will still turn. Look ahead to next year, and being stronger as a league — teams and fanbases alike — because of it.
Jackie: I don’t mind the thought of neutral site venues where the environment is more controlled to give the players what they want which is a shot at winning the Stanley Cup. I would cut the playoff field down to perhaps just the teams currently in a divisional playoff spot. Regardless of what they do it will deviate from the norm but if it’s possible to hold playoffs they should explore it within reason.
Hardev: The rules are the rules that were set out before the first game of the season. Divisional format by points. If the league wants to pro-rate ever team’s points so it’s against a 82-game schedule (ie. points percentage), they can do that. But the playoff format should stay the same.