League will be adopting a 24-team format for this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs if they are held
The NHL now has a plan set in place for the 2019-20 season to continue. Earlier today, the league announced it will be forgoing the remainder of the regular season and jump right into the playoffs if play can be resumed. The league will be utilizing a playoff system that features 24 teams as opposed to the usual 16.
The decision was announced by Commissioner Gary Bettman during a press conference this afternoon. While the announcement does inspire hope, Bettman did say that the choice does not guarantee that play will be able to resume any time soon. The league is reportedly still working with the Players’ Union on safety protocols and potential locations where games can be played.
Under the 24-team format, the top four seeded teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences (East: Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, Philadelphia. West: St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas, Dallas) will participate in a round-robin-type tournament to determine playoff seeding. The remaining 16 teams will participate in eight different best-of-five series featuring the 5th through 12th seeded teams in both conferences.
The decision to call off the regular season means that the league will end up playing 189 fewer games than originally scheduled. Also, the 24-team format means that the 2019-20 NHL season has ended for eight teams: Buffalo, New Jersey, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Ottawa, and Detroit.