When the Covid-19 pandemic halted NHL play in March of this year, there was wonder if the season would resume. While the season would ultimately resume and come to a conclusion with the Tampa Bay Lighting winning the Stanley Cup, some teams still haven’t played a game since March.
One of them was the San Jose Sharks, whose 29-36-5 record was last in the Pacific Division and worst in the Western Conference. Only the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators had a worse record.
As one of only seven teams (those that had no shot at the post-season) were not invited to the NHL’s return-to-play format, the Sharks were placed at a disadvantage heading into the off-season. After all, other teams got to get back into conditioning and game play, while the Sharks and the other six that were left out, haven’t played in seven months.
The good news for the Sharks, Red Wings, Senators, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings, and New Jersey Devils is that the appear to be getting addition work before regular training camp begins. The NHL Players Association and the league have appeared to come to an agreement and also talked about additional pre-season contests, but that is still up in the air. NHL general managers should come up with a solution soon when the NHL general managers convene.
There is nothing in practice that can equal the pace of regular season and especially playoff hockey, so the teams that missed out last season won’t completely make up for the lost time on the ice. However, early training camp, along with increased preseason action is certainly better than nothing. For the seven teams at the disadvantage, any additional work is welcome in hopes to return to playoff competition next season.