Chambers: NHL players motivated to return for all the right reasons

NHL players are certainly a selfless breed, usually motivated by the pursuit of a silver chalice that they can share with teammates and friends.

They have one salary for the regular 2019-20 season and they will get that regardless of whether the game resumes after the COVID-19 crisis and the Stanley Cup is awarded this summer. The playoff bonus pool is $ 15 million, a relatively small number when you consider that each member of the Cup-winning team will receive between $ 150,000 and $ 200,000 depending on how many players get a share.

So returning to play isn’t just about the cup. Just usually.

It’s also about sharing revenue and protecting their brand. The players want to help the NHL return from the pandemic of the coronavirus and gain strength for the future. They recognize the importance of the league’s television deal with NBC – especially this summer, when playoff games can fill prime slots previously held by the Olympics.

They play in empty buildings, but probably in front of a large TV audience.

“There is also an opportunity to get a playoff bonus,” Avs said Ian Cole, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh, told me by phone. “There is something more going on financially. And then there’s the revenue sharing and escrow that would happen next year if we weren’t able to get back and recover some of the revenue we lost. So there are certainly many more financial problems that will come in handy to play – whether now or in the future.

“That said, the most important factor is the ability to compete for a Stanley Cup. You only have so many chances to be part of a really great team that has a very legitimate chance and I consider us a team that has a very legitimate chance of winning the Stanley Cup. I look around all the teams in the league and I am obviously biased, but I think we can beat every team in this league in a series of seven games. “

So the Avalanche is very hungry to return this season. The San Jose Sharks, not so much.

The last place of the Western Conference Sharks, along with fellow California teams Anaheim and Los Angeles, are no doubt happy to hear about the league’s direct approach to the league. The same goes for the weakest Eastern Conference teams – Detroit, Ottawa, New Jersey and Buffalo.

Those seven combined teams don’t have much incentive to restart the regular season in a scenario that would start with a two-week training camp, only to end the remaining 11-13 games of the regular season before empty arenas in “hub” cities and then go back to where they came from while they were quarantined. Is not true.

Some believe the 24-team playoff is two teams too much, as Chicago in the west and Montreal in the east don’t deserve to come in. The Blackhawks (32-30-8, 72 points) are six points from a traditional play-off photo and the Canadiens (31-31-9, 71 points) are 10 points. In a typical season this time of year, they would have virtually no chance of making the playoffs.

“Money is definitely coming into play,” former NBC and Avs analyst Brian Engblom recently told me. “It’s Chicago and Montreal. Large hockey markets. She wants the competition to be clearly visible. ‘

The Blackhawks and Canadiens can also be in the picture because a 22-team playoff doesn’t work with 11 teams on each side. It is worth noting that the Arizona Coyotes and New York Rangers were close enough to sniff the playoffs when the competition ended on March 12. Arizona is four points off in the west and the Rangers just two behind in the east.

Canceling the rest of the regular season and entering a play-off for 24 teams is a good plan.

Unless the Blackhawks or Canadiens win the cup.

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