Bettman set to announce format if National Hockey League returns

Bruce Cassidy

Daly said, depending on the circumstance, a player testing positive would "not necessarily shut the whole operation down", citing guidance from NHL's medical advisors.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced some details about how the league plans to resume its 2019-20 season Tuesday, including a 24-team playoff format. Bettman stated that in early June, the league expects to enter Phase 2, which means clubs can return to their individual practice facilities or voluntary small groups on-and-off ice training.

Boston held an eight-point lead over Tampa Bay for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference and a six-point lead for the top record in the National Hockey League and that was with just 12 games left to go on its schedule. Western Conference cities that are being considered are Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Vancouver.

During a video of his announcement, Bettman named Pittsburgh as a potential candidate to be a hub city. "It's time to reopen the economy and it's time we get our professional athletes back to work". "It must be available on wide-scale basis without obstructing local needs". The NHL and NHLPA have yet to decide whether teams will be reseeded or if the postseason will use a bracket format.

"We don't need to make a decision today".

"We will not set dates, choose sites or begin to play until we know it is appropriate and prudent and approved to do so", Bettman said.

Bettman said the qualifying rounds and first two rounds of the playoffs could be played in about a month.

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"I want to make clear that the health and safety of our players, coaches, essential support staff and our communities are paramount", Bettman said.

The remaining 16 teams will be seeded by conference and play best-of-five series.

The round robin for the top teams was installed as a way to give those teams meaningful hockey to play while waiting for the qualifying round to be completed. In the West, those teams are the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and Dallas Stars.

While the Bruins will be able to avoid the dangers of potentially getting upset in that best-of-five qualifying round, the current system of the round-robin format could prove costly for Bruce Cassidy's club - given that the tournament will be used to determine seeding once the regular 16-team playoff format gets underway in the following round.

Fast-forward to May 26 and the Bruins will be forced to play three games that could see them drop all the way to fourth in the conference.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league could end up doing 25,000 to 30,000 tests costing "millions of dollars" as a result.

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