National Hockey League regular season officially over; Wild makes playoffs

NHL announces plan to return to the ice

When medical experts and government authorities deem it safe, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman says 24 teams will head right into a new playoff format in two hub cities.

"These are extraordinary and unprecedented times", Bettman said.

The league will use placeholders to represent the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round since it won't be known at the time of the lottery.

In a state of the union address Tuesday afternoon, Bettman laid out the format and rough schedule for the league's return to play strategy, which the league hopes will begin with training camps in mid to late July and end with a Stanley Cup champion being crowned in early fall.

Tuesday's news was just that, but also doesn't guarantee a return to action.

"We have a long road in front of us", deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

"Right now we believe all of the cities have the capability to do what we need done".

The commissioner noted that clubs will be restricted to 50 members of personnel if play does indeed resume at two of these hub cities.

It will see the top four teams in both conferences play in separate round-robin tournaments to determine seeding for the playoffs while the other eight teams will meet in a best-of-five "play-in" qualifying series to determine the final eight teams in both the East and West. No. 12, No. 6 vs.

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The first- and second-round post-season matchups could be either best-of-five or best-of-seven series, but the conference finals and Stanley Cup will be best-of-seven. "We are well positioned to select some of the most exciting young players in what is widely perceived to be one of the deepest drafts in years", said Melnyk in a statement. "We're having discussions ... consistent with the restriction and consistent with the quarantine, whether that can be served in a way that's a little more non-traditional - kind of in a bubble environment as opposed to strictly in somebody's hotel room or the likes". "And hopefully we can". That group includes the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington Capitals in the East, and the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, and Vegas Golden Knights out West.

No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs.

No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida and No. 8 Toronto vs.

No. 6 Nashville Predators vs. No. 10 Minnesota and No. 8 Calgary vs.

The top 12 teams in each conference would be resuming play while the seven teams left over will enter the draft lottery.

"Let me assure you that the reason we are doing this is because our fans have told us in overwhelming numbers that they want to complete the season if at all possible", said Bettman. "Our buildings, our markets can handle it".

The NHL playoffs traditionally involve eight teams from each conference, with the victor having to navigate four best-of-seven series following a full schedule.

Those games are expected to be played without fans in a few locations.

The league came up with this scenario because there was concern expressed among the general managers that a team could not only win the lottery, it could then go on to win the Stanley Cup in the summer. "Since March 12, we have been hopeful and optimistic that by developing all options and alternatives we could get to this point".

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