Walton: NHL Playoffs Could Have "A Pretty Big Audience"

The Stanley Cup playoffs could be one of the most-watched sporting events of the year

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
June 03, 2020 - 9:20 am
Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals NHL

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While certain details are still being ironed out, the NHL has announced its return-to-play plan to resume the 2019-20 season. The league suspended its season March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but fear not, hockey fans. Players will soon be back on the ice.

“I like that the NHL was taking a pretty strong lead in returning to play and doing it in the safest way possible and getting out in front of it as much as anyone can in these uncertain times,” Capitals radio voice John Walton said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Look, everybody, no matter what team you are, there’s probably something you don’t like about the plan – but the fact that there is a plan is a good thing.”

As the NHL outlined, 24 teams will compete for the Stanley Cup, with 16 teams participating in a play-in round. Games will be played in two hub cities – one for each conference – and teams will be limited to 50 personnel in their respective hub city.

“Twenty-four teams have a chance,” Walton said. “There are certainly some teams like a Montreal or a Chicago where they probably weren’t going to be part of the postseason but now they have a chance. Now you’ve got 24 cities that are engaged. You certainly have, depending on what happens with baseball – and there’s certainly been some ups and downs in those negotiations – you may have a pretty big audience watching your product. 

“So I think first and foremost, getting back and doing it safely [is most important],” Walton continued. “But for all teams involved, just to get back to something close to [normal], playing games, having a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup – it’s what everyone in this business strives to do, and now you’ve got a chance to do that if all goes well post-July 10.”