If NHL Resumes Play, It’ll Be 24 Team Playoff
National Hockey League commissioner (NHL) Gary Bettman announced today if they're able to complete the 2019-2020 season, they'll go straight to a 24 team playoff and nix the rest of the regular season that was postponed when the coronavirus pandemic began in North American in March.
"As we seek some return to normalcy, this is an important day for NHL fans," Bettman said in a press release. "Since March 12, we've been hopeful and optimistic that by developing all options and alternatives, we could get to this point. I know I join sports fans everywhere when I say we cannot wait for the players to hit the ice again."
Whether they'll be able to resume play on the current season is not definitive, but having a plan in place in case they do is a significant step.
The proposed 24-team conference-based playoff format was approved by the NHLPA on Friday in an overwhelming majority vote of 29-2.
Per ESPN, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricane were the two NHL teams who voted against the proposal.
The proposed plan would use two cities to house the teams (12 teams in each city), and play all games in the city in a single arena without fans.
If play resumes, the top 4 seeds in each conference receive a bye through the first round of the playoffs.
The top 4 in the East are the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.
In the West, it's the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Las Vegas Knights and Dallas Stars.
A Stanely Cup Final would remain a best-of-seven series, with the games alternating between the two hub cities.