The conversation I've been having inside my head this week:

Hockey Brain: "Hooray, hockey's comin' back!"

Cynical Brain: "This 24-team tournament and elaborate draft lottery are merely the framework for a possible return to finish the 2019-20 NHL season. It's candy for the sugar-starved. It's a shiny object for those seeking willful distraction from the issues still facing a return to play: the location of the hub cities, and the health and safety of players and their families stuck inside of them; capacity for testing; the protocols for players and staff who test positive for the coronavirus; governmental regulations; and all of the other complicated issues facing a league seeking to continue on during a global pandemic. Tuesday's announcement was designed, for weeks, as a way to give fans a sense of progress and give the hockey community something to talk about as a respite in dire times. That's not even touching on the inequities of the format they've settled on, that somehow manages to both punish current playoff teams (giving them no benefit in a qualification round) and unprecedentedly reward them (giving them a shot at Alexis Lafrenière after losing a five-game series). The NHL won the messaging game because no one bothered to read the fine print."

Hockey Brain: "Hooray, hockey's comin' back!"

Look, there's a mountain to climb for the NHL, and at the top of that mountain is an infectious disease that has killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S. alone. Let's not be under any delusions about how stacked the deck is against hockey coming back, and how many very dedicated fans would rather it not come back at this time.

But to acknowledge my Hockey Brain for a moment: If all of the NHL's best-laid plans work out ... if conditions in late July allow for it to happen ... if the postseason isn't scuttled by a second wave of COVID-19 or a slew of positive tests among the players ... it's going to be awesome.