TAMPA (WFLA/AP) – The NHL and the NHLPA have come to an agreement to resume the season with a 24-team playoff format.
Numerous questions remain however including potential game locations when players can return to their respective teams and what non-playoff teams will be allowed to do during what could potentially become a 10-month break between games.
Under the plan proposed by the NHL/NHLPA Return To Play committee, the top four teams in each conference would play each other in a mini-tournament for seeding while the remaining 16 teams face off in a best-of-five series play-in round to set the final 16 to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Games would likely be played without fans present, and the teams grouped in hub cities around the continent. Las Vegas has become the city most mentioned as a potential site, particularly because of its large concentration of hotels that could house numerous teams.
“The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup,” the NHLPA said in a statement. “Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”
The NHL is open to having the playoffs extend into September and pushing the start of the 2020-21 season as late as January — or when fans can begin attending games in some capacity.