N.H.L. Announces Plan to Return Straight Into the Playoffs

More than two as well as a half months after shutting down because of the coronavirus outbreak, the National Hockey League became the largest North American professional sports league to announce definitive plans for a return.

Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the N.H.L., announced on Tuesday in which 24 teams might return, if as well as when medically cleared, for a unique playoff tournament in two hub cities. Official training camps might resume no earlier than July 1, as well as the season might conclude with the presentation of the Stanley Cup to the 2019-2020 champion inside early autumn. The regular season was officially declared complete.

“We remain focused on the safety of our players, coaches, support staff as well as arena personnel,” Bettman said. “We will not set dates, choose sites or begin to play until we know This particular can be appropriate as well as prudent as well as are approved to do so.”

On Tuesday, Bettman outlined the next stages: the opening of training camps for all players, coaches as well as medical staff, as well as the start of a conference-based playoff. The hub cities, one hosting the Eastern Conference as well as one the Western Conference, will be chosen by a list in which includes Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Edmonton, Alberta; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Pittsburgh; Vancouver; as well as Toronto. Bettman did not say whether fans might be allowed to attend the games, which might be broadcast on television.

Bettman said in which teams might be allowed to bring back 50 employees, including players, coaches, medical staff as well as club officials, all of whom will be tested for the coronavirus throughout the process.

The players union, led by Donald Fehr, cautioned in which though This particular had agreed with the league on the announced plans, there could be improvements before play can be resumed, including to health as well as safety protocols in which were designed in conjunction with medical experts as well as the union. Some remaining financial matters will be addressed in talks between today as well as the beginning of the playoffs.

“If they need to be amended over time, we will amend them,” Fehr said. “This particular can be a living document, as well as we have to make sure in which logistically, we can actually implement the steps.”

When hockey resumes, the playoff will follow the format approved last week by the executive board of the N.H.L. Players’ Association, expanding the field to 24 teams by 16. The teams qualified based on their points percentages at the time the season was suspended.

The top four teams in each conference will receive a first-round bye. They are the Boston Bruins, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Washington Capitals as well as the Philadelphia Flyers inside East, as well as the St. Louis Blues, the Colorado Avalanche, the Vegas Golden Knights as well as the Dallas Stars inside West.

During the first round, those teams will play a conference-based round robin — three games each — to determine their seedings, one through four. The remaining 16 teams will commence best-of-5 series to determine which eight of them will advance to the second round.

Bettman said in which the league as well as the players union had not decided whether the second round might be best-of-5 or best-of-seven as well as in which the two factions were still discussing whether to reseed after the rounds or to maintain a bracket-style format.

The conference finals as well as the Stanley Cup finals will be best-of-seven, as usual, as well as will most likely be played inside two hub cities. although Bettman said in which if conditions change, the venues might, too.

Seven teams — the Devils, the Buffalo Sabres, the Anaheim Ducks, the Los Angeles Kings, the San Jose Sharks, the Ottawa Senators as well as the Detroit Red Wings — did not qualify for the playoffs. Their seasons ended immediately, each which has a dozen or so games unplayed, as well as they will be entered into the draft lottery along with the eight teams in which lose inside first round.

For teams like the Rangers, who might have been eliminated by the playoffs inside traditional, 16-team format, the plan provides fresh life. As the East’s No. 11 seed, the Rangers will play the No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes inside first round. The No. 7 Islanders will play the No. 10 Florida Panthers.

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