NHL union executive board approves 24-team proposal
The National Hockey League Players' Association executive board approved a proposal to resume the 2019-20 season with a 24-team, conference-based playoff format.
Other issues remain to be worked out between the two sides before the players will return to the ice, the union 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," the union's statement read.
The executive board includes a representative from each of the league's 31 teams.
Under the plan, byes into the second round would go to the top four seeds in each conference based on points percentage as of March 12, when the NHL paused the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Based on that, the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference would be the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. The top four Western Conference teams would be the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars. Those teams would play in a three-game tournament to stay sharp, SportsNet reported.
The other 16 teams would play in a best-of-five, play-in first round.
The rest of the bracketed playoff format would have the 5 vs. 12 winner playing the fourth seed, the 6 vs. 11 winner playing the three seed, the 7 vs. 10 winner playing the two seed and the 8 vs. 9 winner playing the one seed in best-of-seven series, according to the report. All remaining series would be best-of-seven, too.
Multiple media outlets have reported that hub cities would be utilized if the plan is approved and that fans would not be allowed in the arenas.
--Field Level Media
© Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained in this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.