Sports Weber: 24-team format unfair, but Canadiens excited to compete

21:28  23 may  2020
21:28  23 may  2020 Source:   thescore.com

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a close up of Shea Weber in a red uniform holding a football ball © Icon Sportswire / Getty

Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber is aware that the proposed 24-team playoff format provides him and his team a chance to seize an unexpected opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup.

"Obviously, I think we're excited. Do I think it's fair to all the teams that were in the playoffs? No," Weber said on TSN 1040. "At the same time, that gives us a chance to win and it gives us a chance to keep playing."

The NHL is inching toward officially opting for a 24-team playoff format if the league returns to complete the 2019-20 season. On Friday, the NHLPA voted in favor of authorizing further negotiations with the NHL to examine additional details regarding the format.

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Montreal sat 24th in the league standings when the season was paused March 12. Despite a near zero percent chance of making the playoffs, the Canadiens would squeeze in as the final team under the proposed format.

"Obviously, the situation we were in where we weren't officially out (of the playoffs) but it would have been a tough road ahead to get in, and I think now it gives us a little bit of hope," Weber added. "At the end of the day, I think everyone's going to consider it, whether they'll give it an asterisk ... it's still the Stanley Cup."

Expectations are that the league will formally announce the approval of the format in the coming days, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, who adds that a timetable or return date is unlikely to also be included.

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Safety of NHL players biggest concern for Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher .
Brendan Gallagher said there are a number of items still to negotiate before the NHL returns to play, but added there’s one item that is non-negotiable. “The most important thing is the players’ safety and (the safety of) coaches and everyone involved,” said Gallagher, who joined fellow NHLPA player rep Paul Byron on a Canadiens conference call with the media Thursday afternoon. “They have to assure the players are going to be safe and go forward from there. “There are definitely players with fear of the virus, but if we do come back we’re going to have to put a lot of trust in the NHL to keep us healthy,” Gallagher added.

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