MONTREAL — Eleven weeks after the NHL hit the “pause” button on the 2019-20 season, commissioner Gary Bettman announced the League’s Return to Play plan on Tuesday.
The commissioner confirmed that the health and safety of everyone involved is the primary concern for the NHL and play will only resume when it is safe to do so, with adequate testing available without disrupting any medical needs.[embedded content]
Here are some of the highlights of the NHL’s Return to Play plan:
– The 2019-20 regular season has been deemed finished and 24 teams will continue to compete for the 2020 Stanley Cup, including the Montreal Canadiens.
– Phase 2 of the Return to Play plan will begin in early June and include voluntary small group workouts in NHL cities.
– A date for the opening of training camps has not yet been determined, but they will not start before July 1.
– Two hub cities will be selected to play host to the qualifying rounds and ensuing playoff rounds. The cities currently in consideration are Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver.
– The top four teams from each conference will play each other to determine first round seeding, which includes Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference.
– The remaining eight teams will faceoff in a Best-of-5 Qualifying Round, with the 12th-ranked Canadiens facing the Pittsburgh Penguins to kick things off.
– Other Eastern Conference qualifying-round matchups include:
- Hurricanes vs Rangers
- Islanders vs Panthers
- Maple Leafs vs Blue Jackets
– The length of the first and second round of the playoffs has yet to be determined, but the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final will both be Best-of-7 series.
The NHL’s full Return to Play plan, including Draft Lottery scenarios, can be found HERE.