The NHL Players' Association announced late Friday its executive board has authorized "further negotiations" on a 24-team playoff format as the league bids to resume the 2019-20 season and award the Stanley Cup.
The NHL will resume play with 24 teams contesting the Stanley Cup playoffs, according to a report by Boston Hockey Now. In giving the format the green light, the NHLPA stressed several details still need to be negotiated before games can begin.
Earlier this week, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the season could resume with games being played in centralized locations.
It remains to be seen whether outstanding matters involving health and safety protocols; quasi-quarantine for perhaps up to 10 weeks within a hub city and separation from family; rules of engagement on the ice, and financial considerations including the players' escrow obligations will be as hard to navigate as this one that proved hard. Under this format, the Penguins would play a best-of-five against the Canadiens, 12th in the East and 23rd overall, for the right to advance to the first round.
Under the 24-team plan, and if the league can navigate the other obstacles in its way, the top-4 in each conference would play a round-robin tournament to determine seedings, while the other eight would tangle in four separate best-of-five series. This agreement simply authorizes further negotiation between the National Hockey League and NHLPA. and is the framework of a plan on which to build off since the regular season was placed on pause on March 12 amid the coronavius pandemic. Other cities mentioned include Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Edmonton, Alberta. Las Vegas, with its abundance of hotels, is considered a strong candidate to be a hub city. A two-hub system would have 12 teams at each city, while a four-hub plan would have six squads at each site. Major issues such as testing and safety measures would be addressed by the Return to Play committee. That's to be determined, but early July seems to be the league's goal. No. 12 Chicago, No. 7 Vancouver vs.