If teams play in hub cities, will the air times of games reflect the home team's normal broadcasting time? - @mattyheman
There's still a good bit of logistics to be sorted out as it relates to the NHL's return to play plan. A final decision on hub cities - one for the Eastern Conference and one for the Western Conference, though not necessarily one in the geographic east and one in the geographic west - is going to need to be settled in the next week or so, given the current timeline.
Once we have an answer as to where Phase 4 will take place, more details will begin to fall into place.
It's guaranteed to be a different and unique experience. These are going to be intense, high-stakes games - especially in the best-of-five qualifying round - staged in empty buildings, devoid of raucous playoff atmospheres. The broadcasts, likewise, will probably be a little different. With 24 teams occupying just two buildings, you're likely going to see multiple games in a day. Because of this, I don't think they'd each be able to be coordinated with that market's typical broadcasting time unless they aired on tape delay. And, in the age of constant connectivity, spoilers would be prevalent. At this point, though, I'd imagine anything and everything is probably being considered.
Is there a point of no return date for the NHL concerning the restart of the 2019-20 season? - @Browntruck1980
I think there has to be. If you imagine the 2019-20 season as a plane looking to land (it's been circling the airport for a while now) and the 2020-21 season as a plane scheduled to take off, there's limited runway in order to accomplish both, especially when you consider the start of next season is already likely delayed by 2-3 months.
A report on Monday indicated the NHL and NHLPA have come to a tentative agreement on extending player contracts through the end of October, which gives you a rough estimate of when the two sides expect the 2019-20 season to reasonably conclude.
All of this, though, is contingent upon optimal medical and safety conditions and a formal return to play agreement between the NHL and NHLPA. Those factors in themselves could spell the point of no return for this season.
Best guess for when we'll be back at PNC Arena watching a live hockey game? - @dsgill87
The hope would be the start of the 2020-21 season, whether that's in December or January. Even then, until a vaccine is available, I would imagine physical distancing measures would be in place and capacity could possibly be limited.
It would be a nice Christmas present to have fans in the building again, but a lot can change in six months - just look at the last quarter of the calendar year.
Any official news on minor-league affiliation? - @AirJlb
Nope, no news just yet. Soon, maybe? Stay tuned.
Any additional stories from the players and/or staff on the best ways they entertained themselves while quarantined? - @NCCaniac42
Just like bunk beds, quarantine provides so much more room for activities (as long as they include physical distancing and avoiding crowds).
Andrei Svechnikov went fishing. He also donated masks and hand sanitizer to local Boys & Girls Clubs.
Video: "I just want to help the people."
Dougie Hamilton has been continuing his on-ice rehab. He also went fishing.
Vincent Trocheck has a new logo and just dropped Vol. 1 of a quarantine music mix.
Sebastian Aho recently skated with Karpat in Finland.
Jordan Martinook and Joel Edmundson were recently skating together in British Columbia.
A group of guys toured the Canes' new practice facility and offered suggestions on layout and design.
Tripp Tracy has a podcast.
I wish I could tell you I've been more productive outside of work, but I'm not sure that's entirely true. It's just been a lot of binging. Lately, "Broadchurch," (excellent) "I'm Not Okay With This," (OK) "End of the F-ing World" (funny and lovely) and "Watchmen" (loved it). Now, "Narcos" (so far, so good).
Hopefully y'all continue to stay safe - and remember to wear your masks!
How did the shutdown change the media content aspect of things for you? Have you experience anything like it in your career before? - @a_gunzy
It changed it completely, and it all happened so quickly.
On the night of Wednesday, March 11, I posted a preview for a game I was pretty sure wouldn't even be played.
The next afternoon, we boarded a plane bound for Raleigh, a successful road trip cut one game short. But beyond that, there was so much unknown.
It took me a week to finally scribble down some thoughts that had been bouncing around in my head.
There were still so many questions and so few answers, but we knew we had to shift our content strategy in order to keep fans engaged. We recorded a few podcasts after the pause - and, yes, it will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later. There were Zoom calls with players and staff. Y'all voted for the best Storm Surge (Holyfield should have won, by the way). And we've highlighted some of the most memorable moments in franchise history over the last three months, a project that's been rewarding for me personally to dig deeper into and relive moments that I experienced from afar as someone who fell in love with hockey when the Hurricanes arrived in North Carolina in 1997.
Finally, there appears to be some momentum towards hockey's return, so the content is beginning to shift once more. Hopefully, in the next month or so, the Canes are back on the ice, ready to begin one of the most unique quests for the Cup we may ever see.
For sure, this period will likely be unparalleled in my career. The closest comparison I have is probably the work stoppage that trimmed the 2012-13 season to 48 games. There was so much day-to-day uncertainty, especially from the middle of 2012 onward, and once the work stoppage began, we couldn't create content with players; instead, I penned weekly longform features on a handful of alumni.
The work stoppage, at least, ended, and once it was done, it was done. The situation we're facing now is much different, and the idea that this pandemic is suddenly and simply "over" is wishful thinking cloaked in naivete.
But, our goal remains constant: to keep you, the fans, engaged and informed. Hopefully this mailbag provides a brief respite, and maybe we have some real hockey to gab about soon.
More questions and more answers coming your way soon!
If you have a question you'd like answered or you'd like to chat more about content or binging, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes, or you can drop me an email.