Home NHL Chambers: Saturday marked the unofficial end of the NHL’s regular season. Now what? – The Denver Post
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Chambers: Saturday marked the unofficial end of the NHL’s regular season. Now what? – The Denver Post

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The NHL’s regular season unofficially ended Saturday, and if all games hadn’t been postponed since March 12, the Avalanche would have hosted the St. Louis Blues in the season finale for both teams at the Pepsi Center.

The game probably would have had massive implications in identifying the Center Division winner and Western Conference regular-season champion. The NHL’s “pause” began with the Blues (42-19-10) leading the Avs (42-20-8) by two points (94-92), with Colorado having a game in hand.

St. Louis had 11 remaining games, the Avs 12. The next-closest Central Division challenger was Dallas, a distant 10 points behind Colorado with 13 remaining games. The next-closest Western Conference challenger was Vegas, with 86 points and 11 games to go.

Bottom line: What was then is what it is now. And what would have been an epic regular-season finale in Denver was not to be. Or it probably won’t be if the coronavirus pandemic continues to push the season so far back the league opts to ditch the remaining games, or some of them, and go into the playoffs.

Of course, this COVID-19 crisis could end the season entirely.

The City of Calgary announced Friday that all public events are canceled through June 30, meaning the Calgary Flames aren’t eligible to play home games until then. Other NHL cities will probably issue similar public restrictions if North American health experts can’t identify the approximate end of the pandemic.

Looking back, all we can do is speculate on what might have been. Would the Avalanche had finished first in the division and conference? What team would Colorado open the playoffs against Wednesday or Thursday at the Pepsi Center?

Here’s what the 16-team Stanley Cup bracket might have looked like:

Western Conference: No. 1 Avalanche vs. No. 8 Canucks (wild-card two); No. 2 Golden Knights vs. No. 7 Predators (wild-card one); Blues vs. Stars (Central Divison); Oilers vs. Canucks (Pacific Division).

Eastern Conference: No. 1 Bruins vs. No. 8 Islanders (wild-card two); No. 2 Capitals vs. No. 7 Hurricanes (wild-card one); Lightning vs. Maple Leafs (Atlantic Division); Flyers vs. Penguins (Metropolitan Division).

That would have been an exciting first round, particularly in the province of Alberta (Edmonton vs. Calgary) and the state of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh).

Open letters from Martin Lind. Colorado Eagles owner Martin Lind is writing regularly to his friends and employees from all his business ventures in Northern Colorado — many of which are closed during the coronavirus pandemic, including the Avalanche’s American Hockey League affiliate.

Lind said no layoffs are planned within the hockey franchise or his massive development project just east of Interstate 25 in Loveland that includes a new and bigger 10,000-seat hockey arena for the Eagles. Lind’s family immigrated to nearby Windsor from Germany.

“My grandpa was refused entry into the United States because he and his brother both had pinkeye at ages 5 and 7,” Lind wrote in his most recent letter. “Those two little boys made it back to Germany, back to American and found Windsor, Colorado, to reunite with their parents and sisters many months later. My father was a 3-pound premie born in the middle of the Great Depression, in the middle of the Dust Bowl, had no doctor, no hospital, and had a heart defect that wasn’t found for 70 years. 

“I believe it’s my fate to be right here right now and I welcome you all to believe with me and my family that we are exactly where we are supposed to be and we will overtime this storm and again become triumphant over adversity.”

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