Toronto Maple Leafs: NHLPA gives green light towards return to play

Derek Ryan #10 of the Calgary Flames skates to check John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Derek Ryan #10 of the Calgary Flames skates to check John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The NHL players have approved a proposal that will see the 2019-20 season resume, but there is still work to be done before the Toronto Maple Leafs are back on the ice.

If you are missing seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs on the ice, then Friday’s news that the NHLPA approved negotiations with the NHL over the proposed a 24-team return to play scenario should provide some optimism.

Earlier this week reports surrounding a playoff format involving 24 teams started to gain steam, which means the latest announcement was more of a formality. It appears there is still more to be discussed and approved before players can get back on the ice.

Based on the discussions, it looks like testing for the coronavirus and where the hub cities will be are at the top of the priority list. Of course, if any of the Canadian cities are chosen then the two-week quarantine period will be in effect and something that has to be kept in mind when it comes to determining a timeline.

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According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, while the players have agreed to have 24 teams participate in the post-season, there are still discussions around whether the playoff matchups are determined through a bracket or reseeding.

John Tavares is the Leafs representative for the NHLPA and he spoke recently about returning this season and it seems like players were willing to compromise on the playoff format this season. Of course, it’s not the most ideal scenario when pretty much every team but seven gets a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup, but it’s a compromise they are willing to make.

One thing that shouldn’t be compromised is the safety of the players and what would happen if a player, coach or team staff member were to test positive. Not only that but how often would players be tested?

On top of trying to figure out how to return and ensure players are safe, there will also be skepticism about how the product will look with no fans in attendance.

So as it stands the Leafs will likely be playing the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, which isn’t the worst opponent. At the same time, Toronto won’t be getting a free pass either considering the Blue Jackets were in the hunt for a wild card hunt.

If the NHL were to go with a bracket format, then the Leafs could be playing the Boston Bruins in the second round. That will depend on if the top four teams play a round robin to determine there position in the standings but regardless, getting back on the ice is a step in the right direction.

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What do you think about the proposed NHL return to action plan? Let us know in the comments below.