National Hockey League agrees on 24-team playoff for coronavirus return, issues remain

Detroit Red Wings vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Under the plan, byes into the second round would go to the top four seeds in each conference based on points percentage as of March 12, when the National Hockey League paused the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NHLPA's executive board has authorized more talks with the NHL on a 24-team playoff format, the union said in a statement Friday night. In giving the format the green light, the NHLPA stressed several details still need to be negotiated before games can begin.

Apart from continuing discussions on the 24-team format, plenty of other hurdles remain before the games will be allowed to resume, including receiving the go-ahead from government and health officials, timing, locations, testing procedures and ensuring the safety of everyone involved. From there, traditional best-of-seven series would follow through the Stanley Cup Final. The top four seeds from each conference will avoid a play-in round while the remaining eight teams will engage in best-of-five series that will blur the division lines in order to complete the customary 16-team bracket for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Under the proposed schedule, the top four seeds in each conference would receive byes into the second round.

The format would exclude the bottom seven teams in the season played thus far from the playoffs.

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.

St. Paul is interested in being one of those hubs.

The league, which was forced to pause its season March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the union have been working together on the NHL/NHLPA's Return To Play Committee. The NHL is on hold, but both players and league governors appear determined to award the cup to a champion this year.

In the West, the best-of-five matchups would include Edmonton versus Chicago, Nashville versus Arizona, Vancouver versus Minnesota, and Calgary versus Winnipeg.

Under this scenario, the 11th-seed Rangers would meet sixth-seed Carolina while the seventh-seed Islanders would face 10th-seeded Florida in the play-in round.



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