(Heartland Newsfeed) — Despite plans to resume operations Wednesday, the NHL opted to extend the operations suspension period through April 15. This means there will be no hockey action for at least two more weeks.
While the sports world waits on the resumption of operations, sportsbooks are already posting championship odds. The Stanley Cup Playoffs were set to begin play on April 8, but the extension delays it further.
There are plenty of unknowns regarding the NHL’s suspension of operations. Multiple factors regarding their plans include:
- The NHL could have their teams complete the 8 to 12 remaining games per team left in the regular season.
- The remaining games in the regular season may not happen altogether. This would prompt the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- It could be possible that the NHL scraps the entire postseason, thus resulting in no champion. This means, unofficially, that the defending champions St. Louis Blues would keep Lord Stanley’s trophy around for another season.
Options are currently under consideration could have operations resuming as early as August, which makes for a short offseason.
“I’d like to think we’ll find a way, but ultimately we want to guarantee the safety of everyone involved whether that’s players, staff, fans, families,” said James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers’ NHLPA representative. “We don’t want to do anything at the expense of any of that. This is a way bigger issue than sports.”
Current conference championship odds
Online sportsbooks have posted early odds based on season statistics leading up to the March 12 league operations suspension.
In the Western Conference, they have the Vegas Golden Knights as a favorite at +325. The Colorado Avalanche’s odds are not far behind at +350. The defending champion Blues is currently sitting at +450 odds to return to the Stanley Cup Final. Additionally, long odds show the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators at +900 and +1000 respectively.
In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins are currently listed as a +325 favorite, with the Tampa Bay Lightning not far behind at +400. The Flyers currently sit at +500 odds. Additionally, long odds are set for the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins at +600 and +800 respectively.
Stanley Cup championship odds
The sportsbooks are not viewing the Blues as having favorable odds to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
Currently, the Bruins have favorable odds at +600. Currently, the Lightning and Golden Knights have even odds at +700. Additionally, both the Avalanche and Flyers have a similar situation at +800.
How COVID-19 affects sports betting
Most physical locations allowing sports betting have been shut down indefinitely due to the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic. This limits the prospects of placing bets on sporting events. Currently, depending on state laws, the currently available option is online betting.
When could the NHL resume hockey action?
Currently, NHL management leaves that decision as an open-ended question as things related to COVID-19 continues to evolve. As things continue to change, this will further affect the odds currently listed as a result.
“Ultimately it’s going to come down to timing and how we can fit everything in,” says van Riemsdyk. “In a perfect world, you’d like to finish the regular season and play it out as it may and go from there.”
“But if some of those time frames become a little bit too shortened where we can’t fit that in, it kind of creates a unique opportunity,” states van Riemsdyk.
As a result, this could present a push for a unique playoff structure.
“We’ll cross those bridges when we get there as far as time-wise and when we’re able to start things up and how that might look,” van Riemsdyk adds.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.