Players’ Association Board approves playoff proposal amidst ongoing pandemic
We are getting closer and closer to the possible return of professional Hockey. Yesterday, the executive board of the NHL Players’ Association voted to approve a 24-team playoff format so that the league can finish the 2019-20 season which was paused back in March. It is believed that the playoffs would take place this summer if the league decides to resume the current season.
The Players’ Union issued a statement about the decision last night. They said, “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. 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…”
Under the proposal, 12 teams from the Eastern and 12 teams from the Western conferences will qualify for the playoffs. The top four teams in the East and in the West will qualify for a first-round bye under the proposal, so eight teams in total will not have to participate in a play-in series. The teams in both conferences ranked from five to 12 will participate in a best-of-five play-in series to see who advances to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Once the playoff field has been cut down to 16 teams, the league said it will go back to the traditional seven-game series.
According to ESPN, fans will not be allowed to attend the games. Also, the league said it is still working out the logistics of setting up and actually playing out these games. ESPN is saying that the league is considering using just one or two “hub cities” for a season restart.