Coronavirus: Ovechkin, Crosby want NHL to resume with playoffs

The saying “if the season were to end today” is an empty phrase often thrown around in the sports world.

If it were up to the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, however, the 2019-20 regular season would be in the history books and the Stanley Cup Playoffs would start immediately when play resumes following the break caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

''For, me of course, the more games we play, it's going to be better for our fans and it's going to be better for teams fighting for the playoffs,'' Ovechkin said on a video conference call. "But I'd rather start the playoffs right away.''

The call featured players from the Metropolitan Division and there will be similar communication featuring players from other divisions in the coming week.

What the remainder of the season will look like, when – and if – it returns is a mystery, but Crosby also feels like it should go directly to the playoffs.

''I mean, you try to get in as many games as you can, I think. But I wouldn't mind starting right in the playoffs.'' Crosby said.

Foregoing the remainder of the regular season and jumping right into the playoffs is easy for Ovechkin and Crosby to say, as both their teams were in control of a playoff spot when the season went on  pause came on March 12 due to the spread of COVID-19.

The Capitals are atop the Metropolitan Division with 90 points, while the Penguins sit in third place with 86.

The New York Rangers, meanwhile, are two points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, and defenseman Marc Staal does not share Crosby’s sentiment.

“Definitely not what Sid said,” said a smiling Staal.

One problem with starting immediately with the playoffs is not every team had played the same number of games when the season was postponed.

The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets both have 81 points and are in possession of the East’s wild-card spots, while the New York Islanders are one point
back but have played two fewer games than Columbus’ 70.

"It’s hard,” Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said. “You can speculate and try to decide what’s fair, but there’s always someone who’s going to be (ticked) off about it. But whatever we do decide, let’s just hope it’s for the best of the game."