Teams exchange pleasantries after Return To Play Plan revealed

NHL Commish Gary Bettman Outlines Plan For Hockey's Return, 24-Team Playoff!

While reports of other sports leagues considering return-to-play plans have circulated, no other major league in North America has formally announced its intentions like the NHL. "And our players and our teams are clear that they want to play and bring the season to its rightful conclusion".

The Boston Bruins, who had the NHL's best record when the league shutdown on March 12 for coronavirus, are at or near the top of most sports book's favorites to win the Stanley Cup after losing in Game 7 a year ago. Regular season overtime rules will apply.

Bettman also left open the possibility that the Stanley Cup Final could be played in the home cities of the finalists.

The plan calls for 24 teams to participate in a playoff split between 16 teams in a qualifying round and eight teams in a round-robin round.

The top four teams in each conference will get byes, and the remaining eight postseason teams in each conference will have play-in series to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

One thing Hurricanes fans should know: Carolina, which opposed the 24-team format, will face the New York Rangers in a best-of-five qualifying round.

There is still no timetable for the resumption of game action or when players can return to team facilities for voluntary workouts.

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena. Bettman said teams would not have training camps until after July 1 at the earliest.

In the West, it would be No. 5 Edmonton vs.

As pointed out by Pierre LeBrun, this means regular-season player stats are done and awards can be voted on and awarded before the season resumes.

Where will the playoffs be played?

During a video of his announcement, Bettman named Pittsburgh as a potential candidate to be a hub city. The Canadian trio of Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver are also among the options, but the Canadian government's 14-day mandatory quarantine could force the National Hockey League to settle for US cities.

While there are details to work out, including whether the first two rounds are a maximum of five or seven games, Bettman said he expects the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals to be played in full in one of the two hub cities. The cities are Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Texas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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