Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn confirmed to The Athletic Saturday that the team voted against the NHL's proposed 24-team playoff format. Killorn, the Lightning's National Hockey League Players' Association rep, said everyone on the team wants to play but felt certain aspects of the format were unfair.
"They didn't feel it was fair that certain teams that probably wouldn't have made the playoffs would have a chance to make the playoffs in a best-of-five series," Killorn told The Athletic. "My team also felt it was unfair that the teams with a bye would not be as well prepared for a playoff series as the teams that had already basically played a playoff series to get into the playoffs."
Killorn said the vote was the opinion of the entire team, not just his alone.
"As the PA rep, I have a duty to represent the voice of my entire team," Killorn explained. "I don't want people to think we don't want to play. Everyone on our team wants to play. In saying that, we are fine with the vote the PA took and we are ready with it going forward."
Stanley Cup playoffs 2020: Everything we know
Tampa Bay had the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at the season's pause with 92 points. In the reported 24-team playoff format, Tampa Bay would play a round-robin against the other top-four teams in the conference to determine the seeding.
Killorn voiced concern about the round-robin portion Friday in a call with reporters and whether those games will properly prepare them for the 16-team playoff.
"The only problem I have with that format is that the top teams that have a bye," Killorn described. "I don't know how competitive the games will be going forward where the teams at the bottom will be playing playoff games right away and [would be] potentially more prepared for the real playoffs."
The competitiveness of the four-team round-robin is of concern for the Bolts after what happened to them last year.
Tampa Bay clinched the President's Trophy on March 18, 2019, and played the final nine games of the regular season with nothing to play for. The Blue Jackets, on the other hand, secured a playoff berth on the second-to-last day of the regular season.
Columbus rode that momentum into the series with Tampa Bay and completed the stunning first-round sweep.
Another concern Killorn's teammates had was being in a "hub city" for a long period of time, a concern shared by players around the league.
"It's going to be tough to be away and we don't know how long we'll be away," Killorn said. "We'll be somewhere that's foreign, but no one is going to be in a comfortable situation.
"You don't know how many chances you're going to get at winning this [Stanley Cup], especially when you have a team that you think can compete for it. So you're willing to make whatever sacrifices you need to do that."