According to reports the NHLPA Executive Board voted to approve the proposed return to play 24-team format for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs put forth by the National Hockey League.
Hearing the 24-team return-to-play format will be approved by NHLPA, but there’s A LOT more work to be done. To put in perspective, if the rest of planning goes well, I’m told camps won’t start until early-July & could run 3 weeks, which would lead to starting play at end of July
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) May 22, 2020
24 Team Playoff Format Approved
This is a welcoming sight for hockey fans. The NHL has been gone for several months and there has been a widespread concern on if the season would resume. Now we know it is Game On!! However, the NHL and NHLPA still have to work out the details on where these games will be played.
The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs format will be very different from what we have seen in the past. They say the Stanley Cup is the most difficult trophy to win and this year will be no different especially for the team winning it. The playoffs are will expand to 24 teams compared to standard 16 teams. The bottom 16 teams will participate in a play-in round. The remaining eight will participate in a series against each other, but the games are purely exhibition. However, there is a chance reseeding of the top seeds could happen. The idea is to get all of the players involved back into the flow of playing. This way the top teams do not just sit around waiting for the play-in round to end.
While we now know what play will look like when it resumes, the timetable is still uncertain. However, the NHL is looking to start mid to late July to fill the void the Olympics left on NBC. If that happens we could be looking at hockey being played late into the summer and an into early fall. All over North America, cities are in varying stages of closure. Some areas have begun the process to reopen public spaces that have been shut down for months while others remain closed. The NHL must take this into account as they plan what the games will look like when they do happen. One thing that is all but certain is that fans will not be present during playoff games.
Another aspect that needs to be considered is where games will take place. It is highly unlikely that not every city will be willing to host games and the NHL would also want to avoid travel where it can. Several cities have been rumoured as host sites. Nobody knows how many cities the NHL wants to have for the playoffs. Reports vary with some saying four cities and others saying two cities.
Many Canadian cities have expressed interest in hosting teams. Toronto and Edmonton are two such cities. Two other cities that have been rumoured to be leading candidates are Vegas and Columbus. Both have the hotel space to house the players and staff if it there are only two hub cities. Right now the NHL is rumoured to be looking at placing up to 12 teams in two hub cities.
Down The Road
Again nobody knows when the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs will officially start. But getting the format settled upon gets the NHL one step closer to returning to action. There are still other details to be finalized about testing along with safety for the players. Not to mention whether or not there will be reseeding after the play-in round. But hockey is back and fans should be ready for action.
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