These Stanley Cup Playoffs will be different from any other before, and hopefully any in the future. The season will start roughly a month from today. As a result, the NHL’s ‘Return to Play’ will take place nearly four months after the 2019-20 season was put on ‘pause’. That creates lots of challenges for players and coaches. Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy believes this scenario will only emphasize the mental toughness of teams. He also admitted that the message in Boston has not changed.
“I think the message for us hasn’t changed in terms of what our ultimate goal is,’ Bruce Cassidy said via Zoom Monday. “Our unfinished business is to be Stanley Cup champions. But inside that message will be a lot of the unknown and how we have to be prepared to deal with that as it comes at us, which can be difficult because we don’t know how it’s going to work out for players’ families yet, how much time they’ll be away, will they be able to visit their family, will their families be able to see them. I think that’s an important thing outside the obvious of playing the game.”
Not only are players away from their families, they will play in foreign cities too. The NHL will resume the season in two ‘hub cities’ that have yet to be determined. Las Vegas and Toronto sit as the favorites, with the Eastern Conference slated to play in Ontario. Edmonton and Chicago are also in the mix.
Away from home, with four months between games. That is an extremely difficult situation for the 24 teams that will play this summer.
“But that’s going to be the message,” Cassidy continued. “I think the mental toughness part is going to determine who ends up raising that trophy at the end of the day, and that’s where I like our chances.”