Like the NFL, major league baseball and the NBA, most of the stories surrounding the NHL lately have to do with return to play scenarios. We've seen several ideas tossed around in various media reports. We broke down some of them with veteran Blue Jackets reporter Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. Aaron joined Joel Riley and me on WTVN this morning. We spent a good 10 minutes with Aaron, who as usual, delivered great information. Here's some of the top bullet points.
**Portzline discussed the reports that indicate that if play resumes, the NHL is favoring a 24 team playoff format (which would include the Blue Jackets) with 12 from each conference getting in. "The idea is to take the bottom seven teams, the teams that are clearly out of it, and make them the draft lottery so only one of those seven teams could have the number one pick. The other 24 teams then would compete. There would be a few games before they would get into what would be called the post-season and who knows what that will look like, if it's best of three, five or seven. But it seems like what's taking shape--bottom seven out and done for the year and then the top 24 are alive to some extent."
**Portzline was asked about the reports that Columbus is in the running to be one of four hub cities for NHL games, with multiple teams being housed here, with games played without fans in Nationwide Arena and the Schottenstein Center: "To be honest with you in the last few days I've heard less and less about Columbus being one of those hubs. Certainly nothing has been finalized. The league, as of Sunday said Columbus was in consideration but it's uncertain. Is the league going to have (only) two cities with 12 teams each?"
**We also talked to Aaron about what hurdles have to be cleared before the NHL can decide on whether to resume the season at all: "The first thing to look for is when does the league lift its self-quarantine edict to players and say 'you can start training in small groups at your local hockey rink.' That could be coming this week as well as an (NHL) draft date. Those I think are the first hurdles that have to be cleared and then they see how that goes. They want to see what it looks like to have 16 to 20 players training in Nationwide Arena daily...not skating yet but training and see if there are flare ups and see if everything goes well there but everyone wants to see how the roll out goes in different states first."
We also talked to Porty about the Blue Jackets, their work in the community and more. Thanks to Aaron for joining us. You can check out our entire conversation with Aaron by going to Joel's podcast page by clicking here.