The NHL recently announced a 24-team playoff as the league looks to return during the coronavirus pandemic. SI's Robin Lundberg applauds the NHL for its plan to bring back the sport and says the bickering happening within MLB is hurting the odds of baseball returning.
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Robin Lundberg: The NHL has a real opportunity with Major League Baseball acting like a bunch of Astros. If they aren’t careful, hockey might skate right past them. Somehow the NBA seems poised for a return and the NHL is announcing playoff plans, while MLB continues to play Moneyball. Every story I read about baseball players and owners fighting over salaries given current circumstances makes me want to throw up. But you know what doesn’t? A 24 team playoff.
And I’m not even really a hockey fan. If The Last Dance and The Match proved anything, fans are starving for sports. If the NHL can get out on the ice before MLB takes the field, isn’t it possible some will at least give them a chance? I’ve always thought it made more sense for hockey to market itself against baseball and not basketball anyway. Here are 30 seconds of NHL action vs 30 seconds of an MLB pitcher getting ready to throw a slider would be an effective ad campaign if you asked me. And if you asked me which league I’d be more likely to watch right now? It certainly at least feels like the NHL. They’re talking about the play and not pay. So I’d suggest Rob Manfred figures out a way to follow Gary Bettman’s lead before baseball is really past time.