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While many pundits and fans alike have questioned the integrity of the NHL's planned 24-team playoff format, New York Rangers head coach David Quinn doesn't believe fairness is what people should be worrying about when it comes to playing sports in the midst of a pandemic.
"I think we all have to be very careful when we're talking about 'fair,'" Quinn said in an interview shared by the Rangers. "When I think about 'fair' right now, I think about the 100,000 people that have lost their lives and the loved ones that have been affected by it.
"I think about the first responders that have been exposed to this terrible disease, mentally and physically. I think about the 30 million, 40 million people that have filed for unemployment. I think about the small and big businesses that have been shut down. I think about the seniors that are in high school and college that will never experience one of life's great moments.
"I think we all have to be very sensitive to the word 'fair.' We've been very fortunate that we continue to play a game that we love, and coach a game that we love. I understand fairness in the small context of our sport, but I think we all have to keep the word 'fair' in perspective."
The Rangers were granted a spot in the expanded playoff format after finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference by points percentage through 70 regular-season games.
New York had already rocketed into the traditional playoff conversation before the pause. The Rangers rode an 11-5-1 surge to enter the shutdown just two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes - the Blueshirts' play-in opponents who sat fourth in the Metropolitan Division and occupied a wild-card position when the league halted play.
The Hurricanes and the Tampa Bay Lightning were the only two NHL teams to vote against the 24-team playoff proposal. Carolina forward Jordan Martinook said it hurts the club's odds of winning a championship, while head coach Rod Brind'Amour claimed the team felt the format eliminated the value of the regular-season games that had already been played.