Details on NHL's Return-to-Play Plans

Bettman set to announce format if NHL returns

The NHL suspended play March 12 after the worsening coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to safely hold games.

Many details are what many of us already know - as the NHLPA's Executive Board signed off on the league's proposed 24-team tournament last week. "We are hopeful the Return To Play Plan will allow us to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup in a manner in which the health and safety of our players, on-ice officials, team staff and associated individuals involved are paramount".

The top four teams in each conference ranked by points percentage - Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia in the East and St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas in the West - will play separate round-robin tournaments to determine seeding.

Seven teams did not qualify for the playoffs, meaning their season is over. There will not be any formal training camps, Phase 3, before July 1. Still, it's a shame that the Bruins won't be able to fully see through a regular season that saw them become the first club to break triple digits, points wise, in the standings and featured a number of individual milestones.

The expanded postseason will see the National Hockey League adopt a brand new format for the playoffs.

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Although only the Detroit Red Wings had been eliminated from playoff contention this season, the restart plan will exclude four other teams from the East and three from the West. The games will be played with regular-season overtime and shootout rules. 5 through 12 seeds would begin best-of-5 elimination series. No. 12 Montreal, No. 6 Carolina vs. Play could resume in late July, with the Stanley Cup Finals in September or even later.

On Tuesday, Bettman said that 10 different cities were now being considered as potential hub. The first and second rounds could be either best-of-five or best-of-seven series, and Bettman said the league has yet to decide whether to use a set bracket or adjust for seeding after every round.

Pittsburgh is one of 10 Bettman said are under consideration to play host to games, and one of only three - Columbus and Toronto are the others - that is home to an Eastern Conference club. The postseason will be held in two "Hub Cities" that the league will announce later; potential sites include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Las Vegas and Toronto. The modified playoffs would place the NHL's top 24 teams in two "hub cities" with secure arenas, transportation, hotels and extensive testing in place.

Although there is sentiment is come circles to call off the balance of the 2019-20 season and focus on the next one, Bettman said that resuming play has widespread support.

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