Twenty-four teams will have a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup when the NHL resumes play later this year.
The NHL confirmed its post-season format Tuesday at an early evening news conference but was unable to say when or where the action will resume.
“I want to make clear that the health and safety of our players, coaches, essential support staff and our communities are paramount,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “While nothing is without risk, ensuring health and safety has been central to all of our planning so far and will remain so.”
The league suspended play on March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic. It came a day after an NBA player tested positive. Both leagues play in many of the same facilities.
NHL teams had played between 68 and 71 of their 82-game season when action was halted.
“Although we are anxious to get back on the ice, we will not do anything until we are assured by medical professionals and the relevant government authorities that it is safe to do so,” Bettman said. “While we are anxious to open (training) camps as soon as possible, we don’t envision doing so before the first half of July.”
The @NHL has released a Return to Play Plan for the 2019-20 season.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 26, 2020
◾ 24 teams to compete for #StanleyCup
◾ 2 hub cities will host games
◾ Protocol for return to training
◾ Draft Lottery
Full Details: https://t.co/JGXioEC4FA pic.twitter.com/3KoUjPRsq4
The top four teams in each conference based on points percentage will qualify for the playoffs. They will play the other three teams in their conference to determine seedings.
The next eight teams in each conference will play a best-of-five play-in series to earn a post-season berth.
Two hub cities (one per conference) will host the action. Ten sites are currently being considered.
The league’s bottom seven teams (Buffalo, New Jersey, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Ottawa and Detroit) have been eliminated and won’t be returning to the ice this year.
Phase 1 of the draft lottery will determine the top three picks and will be held June 26.
Puckreport.com said the playoffs have taken between 56 and 64 days to complete since 2000.