The timetable remains fluid for the NHL’s return to play, but the league on Thursday reaffirmed that the regular season is over when it announced winners of three trophies that are automatically awarded based on the regular-season performance of teams or individuals.
The Boston Bruins were recognized in all three categories. First, they won the Presidents’ Trophy for compiling the top record in the pandemic-shortened season, at 44-14-12 for 100 points in 70 games. They also had the best points percentage (.714).
In addition, Bruins forward David Pastrnak and Washington Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin shared the Rocket Richard trophy, given to the player with the most goals. Each scored 48 goals, with Ovechkin reaching that number in 68 games and Pastrnak in 70. It was the ninth time Ovechkin won or shared the goal scoring title and third season in a row.
Also, Bruins goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak won the Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltenders on the team that allowed the fewest goals. They gave up 167 goals. Rask’s 2.12 goals-against average was the best among goalies who played 23 or more games.
The NHL, which halted play on March 12 and advised players to self-isolate, this week disclosed a cautious and changeable plan for a revamped, 24-team Stanley Cup playoff. As described, the second phase of its plan would begin in early June with players working out at their club’s facilities in small groups while adhering to local medical and safety guidance. Phase 3 would kick off with the opening of full training camps. Multiple reports by Canadian media on Thursday said NHL players have been told those training camps won’t start before July 10, meaning the playoffs probably won’t start until late July or early August and might not end until September or October.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has said he intends to play the 2020-21 season in its entirety and acknowledged it might not start until January in order to give players a reasonable break between this interrupted season and the next one.