Matt Duchene gets it. No matter what way the NHL decides to go about finishing this season “somebody’s gonna get screwed”. The Nashville Predators center was speaking to Hockey Central on Tuesday about all things NHL when host David Amber asked about restarting the season.
“First of all, it needs to be safe,” Duchene said. “For the players, the coaches, the training staff. Everything. It needs to be safe. We can’t have any risk of anybody getting this thing and I think that’s going to be our ultimate biggest hurdle. We can’t put sports and the business of sports, the revenue and all that, above that.”
There have been talks of hub cities hosting playoff games with the format possibly expanding to 24 teams but Duchene would prefer to keep things at the traditional 16 teams.
“There’s no fair way to say who should be in and who should be out because of not playing the full season, not playing the full 82, but for lack of a better word somebody’s gonna get screwed,” Duchene said. “I believe let’s keep it as traditional as possible. I’d love to see us jump to a 16-team playoff. Normal playoff, maybe play a little more frequently because guys are gonna be fresh and you can play a game at 3 o’clock on Friday and at 7 on Saturday and there’s no travel.”
Duchene’s thinking stems from maintaining the integrity of the competition.
“I just think you gotta keep as much integrity as possible,” Duchene added. “You don’t want to have a COVID Cup and I’m worried that if we force this thing and try and it’s a little gimmicky and it’s not quite right, whoever wins the Cup is gonna have people try to take it away from them for their whole lives and guys don’t deserve that.”
Duchene’s Nashville Predators currently hold the final playoff place in the Western Conference ahead of the Vancouver Canucks. Despite both having 78 points the Predators hold one more regulation win over their Pacific Division rivals.