NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has announced that the league will abandon the remainder of the season and go straight to playoffs. Bettman made the announcement at 4:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
He also noted that in 2020-21, the NHL hopes to have an 82-game season.
The NHL and players have come to an agreement on the format, but the return has not yet been formally approved by the NHL Players’ Association.
Waiting on the go ahead from medical experts, the NHL plans to finish out the year with the top 12 teams in each conference. The remaining 7 teams will enter a draft lottery.
The season will resume in two hub cities which will be announced at a later date. Each conference will be assigned a city where they will have practice facilities, hotels and transportation. There will be limited support staff allowed at each venue and testing will be provided in each hub city.
Phase two will most likely begin in early June and clubs will be allowed to return to their facilities for voluntary, small group on and off-ice training. Phase three will likely begin during the first half of July and formal training camps will begin reopening. It is still unknown as to when phase four will begin, allowing teams to resume playing in their respective hub cities.
The hub cities that are currently being considered for playoffs are Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto or Vancouver.
Interconference round robins are to be played by the top four teams in each conference with regular season overtime and shootout rules. The lengths of the first and second rounds are still being determined though the conference and Stanley Cup finals will be best-of-seven.
The 12 teams returning to play in the Eastern Conference include:
- Tampa Bay
- NY Islanders
- NY Rangers
Teams returning to the Western Conference are:
- St. Louis