While some may say that this year should have an asterisk next to it if sports does return, the Vegas Golden Knights would be more than worthy winners should they lift the Stanley Cup.
The sports world has been on lockdown since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although there is hope that the Vegas Golden Knights and the rest of the NHL could return soon.
Reports emerged on Sunday that suggested both the NHL and the NHLPA Return To Play Committee were making a lot of progress in talks on a 24-team Playoff format, with both parties keen for some form of regular-season games to be played first.
Granted, there are a lot of kinks to be ironed out before anything can become concrete or official, but it does appear that we are inching ever closer to the Golden Knights coming back this year.
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It is also hoped that both the NBA and MLB can also return in the not-too-distant-future, so we could be in for a summer packed full of sports.
Count us in.
However, there are some out there who believe that an asterisk or a black mark should be placed next to 2019-20 no matter what happens.
That includes four-time NBA Champion Shaquille O’Neal who believes whoever wins the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season wouldn’t get the respect for their achievement.
It is a silly argument.
And we’re going to address it while using the NHL as an example.
For instance, let’s focus on the Golden Knights and what could happen if they make a deep postseason run this year and win it all.
While they would get a First-Round bye if the 24-team format gets the green light, the Knights would be going up against a team riding a lot of momentum in the Second Round.
Plus, more teams mean more variable matchups and the Golden Knights would no doubt face a trickier path to the Stanley Cup Finals.
They would also have to navigate playing in empty arenas with no fans and very little atmosphere, and we all know how much of an advantage a packed T-Mobile Arena is for the Golden Knights.
Players would have to adapt and learn to self-motivate themselves for games, although that shouldn’t be a problem the closer you get to the Stanley Cup Finals.
You also have to consider the possibility that certain teams could also be away from their families for significant time if the NHL does approve the four Hub Cities idea.
Even if games are played in home arenas, players will no doubt have to get used to a new normal when it comes to testing and social-distancing measures.
So, all in all, if the Golden Knights do embark on a deep postseason run and end up winning it all, you could make a strong argument that they would have faced a much tougher road than they did when they reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2017-18.
The same would apply to teams who might sneak in to the postseason via a play-in , they would still have to navigate all the same hurdles so whoever ends up winning a championship this year would richly deserve it.
That goes for all sports so I don’t agree with O’Neal’s comments that whoever wins a championship this year would need an asterisk next to it.
And I certainly don’t agree that teams wouldn’t gain respect for winning a championship under these conditions.
In-fact, I think franchises would demand a whole lot more respect for coming back after an unexpected hiatus, adapting to playing in empty areas and revamped postseason formats and still going on to capture ultimate glory.
If the Vegas Golden Knights were to go and enshrine themselves in the rich tapestry of the NHL by winning the Stanley Cup in 2019-20, then that achievement shouldn’t be looked down upon just because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It should be held in higher esteem if anything.