NHL announces 24-team playoff format as NBA considers return options
While the NBA ponders how to restart its 2019-20 season, the NHL announced on Tuesday that the rest of its regular season will be canceled and instead a 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs will be implemented in two “hub cities” to finish the campaign.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released details of the league’s plan to jump right into a round-robin, qualifying round in two cities for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference. However, an official date has yet to be unveiled.
“I want to make clear that the health and safety of our players, coaches, essential support staff and our communities are paramount,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said in announcing the Return to Play Plan. “While nothing is without risk, ensuring health and safety has been central to all of our planning so far and will remain so.
“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. And our players and our teams are clear that they want to play and bring the season to its rightful conclusion.
“Obviously, we anticipate playing over the summer and into the early fall. At this time, we are not fixing dates because the schedule of our return to play will be determined both by developing circumstances and the needs of the players.”
Commissioner Gary Bettman shares details on the NHL’s Return to Play Plan. https://t.co/ZH7153tpZ0
— NHL (@NHL) May 26, 2020
The NHL’s revealed plans comes at a time when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s Board of Governors have been weighing options for the professional basketball league’s return. So far, signs are pointing to a shortened finish to the regular season and the playoffs occurring in a single location, perhaps Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, to minimize traveling and exposure.
The NHL suspended its 2019-20 season back on March 12, and Tuesday’s announcement from Commissioner Bettman was the most seismic news outlining resuming the North American hockey season and green-lighting the Stanley Cup Playoffs.