FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, file photo, fans pose below the NHL league logo at a display outside Falcon Stadium before an NHL Stadium Series outdoor hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche, at Air Force Academy, Colo. The NHL Players’ Association’s executive board is voting on a 24-team playoff proposal as the return-to-play format, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press, late Thursday, May 21, 2020. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

NHL moves to 24-team playoff if season returns

The NHL announces that it will end the regular season and go straight into the playoffs with 24 teams if the season returns.

Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the plan to return to play yesterday still needs to go through the approval of the NHL Players’ Association. The plan also includes notes on how to address safety and the NHL Draft.

Playoff Format

With this plan, only seven teams don’t get an opportunity for the Stanley Cup. The rest of the league will go into a tournament style playoffs. Take a listen to the commissioner breakdown of the playoffs.

He added that the games would be played in two hub cities with empty arenas. Bettman said Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver are possibilities to host.

Safety Issues

As cool as a tournament would be to decide and champion and how there is a desire for sports, it doesn’t matter if health and safety is still a concern. This is what Bettman had to say on the matter.

The next big question is when the league will return. Bettman said the league hopes to enter phase 2 in early June which includes teams returning to their individual practice facilities or small group workouts. Phase 3 consists of team training camps opening. He added that this timetable will be in accordance with local and national health officials.

Even though the timing is still up in the air there is still room for optimism. NHL analysts Barry Melrose joined Steve Russell on Sportscene to talk about the proposal. Here’s what Melrose had to say on how long the players need to return.

Bettman also covered the topic of team personnel. He said teams should be expected no more than 50 members to the club’s name allowed to travel to the hub city calling this a “very limited number.”

The Matchups

With this format, the top four teams in each conference based on points percentage get a bye. Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia in the East with St. Louis, Colorado, Las Vegas and Dallas in the West. D

If the season continues, it could be really interesting to see how this style plays out. Melrose talked about the competitiveness and disadvantages to the top seeds in this format.

Gary Bettman audio courtesy of ABC Newscall. 

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