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Brian Burke approves of the proposal to expand the playoffs for just this season, but he's concerned about the risks associated with a return involving 24 clubs.
"Well, this year I say yes," the former longtime NHL executive said Thursday on Sportsnet's "Tim & Sid" when asked how he'd respond if someone pitched him on the reported 24-team plan. "Okay, if you look at the alternatives, the ideal thing is you finish the regular season. Then you know the proper order of finish, you've got the order of selection in the draft, all of those ... picks are sorted out. Okay, but we can't do that. We're not going to be able to finish the season, so what's the next best thing? This year (it's) to expand the playoffs.
"Now, I've been cynical and skeptical about our ability to play," Burke continued. "I remain that way. I think this is too many teams. I think it's going to almost guarantee that we have an issue with this virus, but if they can pull this off, fantastic - this year only. My prediction is this is going to open the door for expanded playoffs going forward, which I'm vehemently opposed to."
Burke commended the league and the players' union for coming up with the 24-team format under these circumstances and said he hopes it happens, but he has doubts about the ability to adequately test for COVID-19 upon a potential resumption of the season.
"(In terms of) the testing that we're doing right now, there's not enough of it and it's not accurate enough," he said, adding, "You're going to have to test these players every day. There's going to be a regular roster of players, plus black aces, plus trainers, plus coaches, plus management people. It's 50 (people) per team without families. That's 50 tests per team per day (and) 24 teams. It's a big undertaking and I hope they can pull it off."
The NHLPA's executive board began voting on the 24-team proposal Thursday night, as first reported by Sportsnet's Chris Johnston. The results aren't expected until Friday.