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Tuesday Caterwaul: Florida Panthers Open Forum

Cats were supposed to take on the Jets tonight

Florida Panthers v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Happy Tuesday folks,

It’s March 17 and tonight the Florida Panthers were scheduled to take on the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.

The NHL issued a new memo to players yesterday that said it hopes to open training camps in 45 days. The CDC’s recommendation for gatherings of less than 50 people will keep actual games from being played until at least May 10. In a best case scenario, the players would have ten days or so to physically get ready.

For all intents and purposes, the regular season is donezo. It’s looking more and more like the return plan would be a 24-team playoff that includes revenue titans the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks. All teams that were below the cut line when the regular season was interrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak. This type of playoff format would also include the Panthers. Yay!!!!

The set up for having that amount of teams involved would be similar to how the NHL used to do things for much of the 1970s (when 12 teams made the playoffs) with a preliminary round with the top four seeds in each conference getting a bye into the second round.

We’ll look at the Eastern Conference match-ups which would based on two things, point percentage and being top three in a division (allegedly) which would jump the Maple Leafs over teams like Carolina and the Isles. The opening round of the postseason would look like this:

Pittsburgh (5) vs Montreal (12)

Toronto (6) vs New York Rangers (11)

Carolina (7) vs Florida (10)

New York Islanders (8) vs Columbus (9)

Bye: Boston (1), Tampa Bay (2), Washington (3), Philadelphia (4)

This isn’t written in stone by any means. There is some discussion of a NCAA March Madness-style (NHL May Madness?) bracket that would include all 31 teams and the league is taking any and all suggestions from team executives.

In other hockey news, the KHL will continue to carry on with Gagarin Cup playoffs, but due to Finnish-based Jokerit and Kazakhstan’s Barys dropping out, the league is going to change the format for the six remaining clubs.