Before the COVID-19 pandemic led to the suspension of the NHL season, the Florida Panthers were fighting for their lives.
As the league continues to discuss potential ideas about how to eventually resolve the 2019-20 season, one idea being floated is to resume the campaign with the postseason starting immediately.
Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov spoke out against this notion, believing it would be unfair to his team.
“I don’t think it would be right if we’re left out,” Barkov said to The Athletic’s George Richards.
“We are close to a playoff spot and have 13 games left. We just started playing as well as we did before the All-Star break, the bye week. We were feeling pretty good, playing with confidence.
“Obviously this thing sucks and health is first. I think the league made the right decision, the world has been making the right decisions. We need to keep people inside, stay away from each other right now. That’s a good thing for everyone. We’ll take a little break and we can be back sooner than later.”
Florida trails the Toronto Maple Leafs by three points, with a game in hand, for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, while facing an uphill battle for the two wild-card berths.
It was a turbulent season for the Panthers, who overcame a slow start from prized free agent signing Sergei Bobrovsky to make a strong push toward the playoffs. The team inexplicably traded one of its best forwards, Vincent Trocheck, to the Carolina Hurricanes at the deadline and have since fought valiantly to stay in the race.
Last week, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin were among the players who were notably in favor of the playoffs starting immediately.
“The best-case scenario is probably the tournament,” Barkov said. “Thank God I don’t have to decide anything. I’m just here, waiting to see what the league does with the season and trying to stay healthy.”
In the interim, all we can do is wait as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All things considered, Barkov isn’t too concerned about a decision being made anytime soon.
“We have everything you could need right here,” he said. “And it’s nice being out on the patio. It is just unreal outside as long as you aren’t going anywhere. The main thing is getting the most people healthy right now. Then we can worry about playing hockey again.”
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