Like most of us, Bruce Cassidy still doesn’t have a clear picture of what kind of NHL we're going to get if/when the 2019-20 season resumes.
Of course, even with no fans in the stands and plenty of rust to shake off due to a months-long break, Cassidy believes the product on the ice won't suffer when the puck finally drops —given the ultimate prize remains the same as any other NHL campaign.
But the format in which teams, players, coaches and fans will have to adjust to later this summer will be a far cry from anything we've all seen before.
After sorting through contingency plans ranging from the resumption of regular-season games, neutral-site venues and countless other proposals — it appears as though an expanded, 24-team format is starting to take shape as the preferred route for all parties this summer.
Speaking on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich Wednesday morning, Cassidy gave his thoughts on the likely uprooting of the NHL's playoff formatting this season — noting that, while likely infeasible, his preference would be to uphold the current 16-team system that has been in place for years.
"Well, from our position, I'd rather just 16 (teams). Again, this is just me talking. I don't have a say in all this, but I'd rather it be 16 teams, four rounds of 4-out-of-7, let's go. That's the integrity of the playoffs," Cassidy said. "It's always been that way. I understand the player's perspective — of wanting to get some games in before that. Because it gets ramped up in a hurry, playoff hockey, there's no holds barred. ... (The players) have been able to do nothing for the most part (during the break). The odd guy might be skating in Sweden or a couple of those European countries that are open. So they do need the time to ramp up, health-wise. So I get that.
"So that's the tough part about kind of a scenario I'd like to see. But at the end of the day, it's going to be unfair for somebody down the road. It's just the way it is. Even if you went with 16 (teams) — what about the two teams right at the bottom? There's the points versus the point percentage. ... It's still a legitimate playoff, but hopefully we get to that 16 in the right way, and it doesn't hurt us. I guess that's where I'm coming from, that we don't get kind of screwed in this process, because we shouldn't be. We should be rewarded for our regular season, but I don't think any scenario is going to be perfectly fair, I understand that."
Based on what has been tossed around in the aforementioned 24-team, conference-based proposal, the Bruins would benefit, as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, from avoiding a potential play-in round limited to a best-of-five format. While that would help the B's avoid any potential upsets out of the gate (of which I imagine there will be plenty, given this extended layoff and subsequent clean slate), it does create a problem in the following round.
After all, does it really benefit the Bruins