NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to announce the return to play format for the league Tuesday afternoon.
Bettman is scheduled to speak on television at 4:30 p.m. AND what hockey will be like if the NHL can resume the season this summer. That means a format of 24 playoff teams, with the other seven teams in the league having their seasons ended.
The NHL Players’ Association voted last week to approve the 24-team format proposed by the return to play committee. This implies that the top four teams from each conference play a mini-tournament for sowing, while let the other 16 compete in the best of five series to set the stage.
There is still no timetable for resuming game action or when players can return to the team facilities for voluntary training.
WATCH | NHL players approve 24-team playoff proposal:
The league, which was forced to suspend its season on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, released a memo on Monday announcing that it was targeting the start of phase 2 early next month. its return to play protocol, including the opening of practice ice rinks and allow small voluntary group training on and off the ice.
“It has not yet been determined when exactly phase 2 will start or how long it can last,” said the memo. “We continue to monitor the progress of each of the club’s markets and we can adjust the overall schedule, if necessary, after discussion with all parties concerned. “
The plan includes:
- If the phase 2 plan gets the green light, the ice sessions will be non-contact and involve up to six players, who will have to maintain a physical distance at all times.
- “Face covers [cloth or surgical-type mask] must be worn at all times – except during exercise – when entering or leaving the club facility and inside the club facility where social distancing cannot be maintained “, indicates the memo. Players are not required to wear face covers while exercising. or on the ice. ”
- Teams are also not allowed to force a player to return to the home city of a club to take the necessary quarantine measures before training begins.
- Coaches and management will be allowed to watch, but not participate in, the informal skates.
WATCH | How the NHL Phase 2 plan will work:
The last two phases of the return to play protocol – training camps followed by a resumption of action – were not mentioned in the memo. Phase 1, which continues after a number of additions, saw players advised to self-quarantine after the new coronavirus stopped most sports about ten weeks ago.
If the NHL returns this summer, it is almost certain that teams will be grouped in central cities in North America – Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Las Vegas would be in the mix – with matches taking place in empty arenas.
The Stanley Cup has been awarded annually since 1893, with the exception of 1919 due to the Spanish flu epidemic and 2005, when a lockout resulted in the cancellation of the entire campaign.
WATCH | What would hockey look like in empty arenas ?: