NHL To Have 24-Team Playoffs If Season Returns
As leagues like the NBA and MLB have had their plans for resuming their respective seasons out in the open, we haven’t heard much from the NHL, whose season was suspended just a few weeks before its playoffs were supposed to start. On Tuesday, the league announced its plan once it is able to resume its season.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced in a press conference on Tuesday that once the league resumes its season, it will forgo playing the remainder of its regular season, and instead go straight to the playoffs with a 24-team format. Bettman said that the league is eager to get back on the ice and play for their fans. “As we seek some return to normalcy, this is an important day for NHL fans. Since March 12, we’ve been hopeful and optimistic that by developing all options and alternatives, we could get to this point. I know I join sports fans everywhere when I say we cannot wait for the players to hit the ice again.”
If the NHL season were to return soon in a bubble city, which has been thrown out by the league, it will most likely have to happen somewhere in the United States as Canada has a 14-day quarantine which is mandatory for anyone coming to the country.
The way the NHL playoffs will work would be that the top four teams in each conference (East: Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Flyers. West: Blues, Avalanche, Golden Knights and Stars) would play in a separate round-robin tournament which would determine seeding for the first round of the playoffs. The remaining 16 teams (seeded by conference) will play a best-of-five play in series to determine the remaining spots in the traditional 16-team NHL playoffs.
The return of hockey has some fans like Melanie Schickler excited, but also feel that things could have been more fair as teams did not all necessarily play the same number of games. “As a die hard sports fan, I’m so happy especially since it’s my favorite sport. I think it could have been a little bit more equal because not the same amount of game were played for each team. But regardless, it’s something and the league did a decent job making the return as fair as possible.”
Schickler would go on to express her concerns about having games played in a hip city as depending on where it is, it can give some teams an unfair advantage, regardless of whether or not fans are present at the games.
The league has not said when it will actually resume its season, but it looking to hold training camps no later than the middle of July.