We have good news for the first time in a looooonnnggg time!
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Tuesday that the league will resume the 2019–20 season by holding a modified Stanley Cup Playoffs with 24 clubs in two “hub cities”.
The league will not resume the regular season, instead choosing to start with conference-based playoffs. Hockey’s postseason will feature 12 teams from the Eastern and Western conferences based on points percentage when the NHL paused on March 12.
Bettman went on to promote that health and safety of players/staff is most important –
“Obviously, we anticipate playing over the summer and into the early fall,” Bettman said at Tuesday’s press conference. “At this time, we are not fixing dates because the schedule of our return to play will be determined both by developing circumstances and the needs of the players.”
The NHL’s modified playoff format will include a 16-team, eight-series qualifying round and a round-robin competition among the top four teams in each conference to determine seeding for the first round. The qualifying round and round-robin will be held at two hub cities to be named shortly, one for each conference. The top four Eastern Conference teams are the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, and Flyers while the Blues, Avalanche, Golden Knights, and Stars compete in the West.
Bettman confirmed there are 10 sites under consideration for hosting games. Candidates include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver. As stated above, there will be two hubs chosen, one per conference.
While this is great news for the sport and sports in general, there are teams that will not be playing this summer. Seven teams did not qualify for playoffs and their season is now over. The Ducks, Kings, Sabres, Devils, Red Wings, Senators, and Sharks make up the NHL Draft Lottery, which is set for June 26.