Rozner: Is there still time for NHL postseason?

  • The Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals, sits empty March 12, 2020, in Washington.

    The Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals, sits empty March 12, 2020, in Washington. Associated Press

  • Kings defenseman Drew Doughty can't see an NHL return, but hockey fans will throw a parade if they get to see the playoffs.

    Kings defenseman Drew Doughty can't see an NHL return, but hockey fans will throw a parade if they get to see the playoffs. AP File Photo

 
 
Updated 4/19/2020 6:03 PM

Drew Doughty was only voicing what everyone has been thinking for weeks.

"Honestly, I don't see how this season is going to return," the veteran Kings defenseman said on a conference call last week. "I really don't."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Since math is a specialty here, let's take a quick look.

It's already past the middle of April and for every month they've been off the ice, the players need at least a week of serious on-ice work in order to look like hockey players again.

They've been away from the rink for a month and best case would probably be another month before they can find any ice time.

That puts us at June 1 with two weeks of on-ice training or exhibition games.

"We're all sitting at home hoping to return to the season, or hoping to watch the playoffs," said the 30-year-old Doughty. "But we're just sitting here waiting, working out, being ready to return at any point.

"I think the NHL would have to make some kind of decision on that soon, and it seems like it's pretty tough to resume the season or the playoffs."

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A baseball player can throw and hit anywhere. Basketball players can toss up jumpers all day long at home. A pro golfer can get out on the course in some states, and almost all of them have home gyms, nets and simulators.

But hockey players need to skate, period. The bike is a poor substitute. A treadmill accomplishes little. They need to skate and 99 percent of them haven't been allowed near a rink for a very long time.

For some of them, it's longer than they are away from the ice in the offseason.

"Everything keeps getting delayed," Doughty said. "I don't see how or when we're going to be able to make a decision to return. And when that (happens), you have to figure out all the logistics. So it seems very, very hard to be able to do, but us players are going to be ready for whatever."

Sure, hockey players will do anything you tell them to do. They want to play. But the not knowing what's next is taking a toll.

"I don't know what I'm working out for," Doughty said, meaning a return to play or a summer of preparation. "They've been telling us we can come back at any time. We only got about four days without training. I like to take at least three or four weeks off. I don't really know what's going on here."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Players need time off to heal and train in the summer. If the playoffs don't end until August, it could be dangerous and a health risk from a hockey standpoint.

"We had to play that World Cup (in September 2016). It was tough to go into games like that after one or two exhibition games coming right out of the summer," Doughty said. "I never recovered from that World Cup for the rest of the season. I was in absolute pain that whole season.

"As much as I could mentally be in game mode, your body's not ready for it if you don't get a full offseason of training. If you only get one week of training camp with a couple of exhibition games, you're going to ruin your body."

Doughty then admitted what many are thinking.

"I know they want to give out the Stanley Cup this year, but in all seriousness it's not going to be like winning a real Stanley Cup because the season wasn't finished," Doughty said. "There are teams that (missed) the playoffs (that won't get a chance), and I'm assuming the (NHL would) have to come up with a different format."

Everything that Doughty says has merit, but the NHL doesn't want to lose a billion dollars in revenue and hockey fans won't care what it looks like or what the format is if they get to see the playoffs.

Playoff hockey is still playoff hockey. We'll take whatever we can get.

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