The NHL Players’ Association executive committee has authorized further talks with the league on the return to play of the coronavirus suspension, approving 24 playoff teams with other aspects still to be negotiated
The NHLPA did not provide a breakdown of the votes of its 31 player representatives during the announcement Friday evening, one day after the proposal was presented to the union’s executive. In giving the green light to the format, the AJLNH stressed that several details have yet to be negotiated before the start of the games.
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The proposal will now be submitted to the NHL Governing Council, which is expected to approve the plan in the coming days. Once approved, the proposal ends the season of the last seven teams in the league.
According to the plan proposed by the NHL / NHLPA Return to Play Committee, the best four teams from each conference would compete in a mini-tournament for sowing while the remaining 16 teams would compete in a play-in of the best five series. round to establish the last 16 to compete in the Stanley Cup.
Although approval is considered important, the task of establishing a path to get players back on the ice remains difficult.
The next step would be for the return to play committee to resolve a host of other issues, ranging from health and safety protocols to determining the venue, as the league prepares to regroup the teams into a number of Main towns.
Las Vegas has become the most mentioned city as a potential site, especially due to its high concentration of hotels that can accommodate many teams. The other cities mentioned are Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Edmonton, Alberta.
Many other questions remain unanswered, including when players can return to their respective teams and what non-qualifying teams will be allowed to do during what could potentially become a 10-month break between games.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league has a plan in place, but did not provide details saying it would be premature to do so at this time.
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“All the right questions and all the questions with answers. But not able to respond to any of them at this point, “Daly wrote in an email. “If and when we are able to make an announcement, we will try to make sure that they receive a response in this context.”
At the very least, the league has part of a plan to build on for the first time since the regular season was suspended on March 12.
The matches would probably be played without the presence of fans. It is unclear how the league will respond to players’ concerns about spending long periods of time in isolation from their families.
Both sides agree that there is no ideal plan, while recognizing the limits they face due to the uncertainty created by the pandemic. The regular NHL season was interrupted on March 12, with 189 games remaining and its 31 teams having played an unequal number of games.
“Obviously it’s not ideal, but I think in a moment like this, how can something be super traditional? Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie said this week. “I think we all have to adapt and be ready to adapt and realize that it won’t be these perfect, classic NHL playoffs. I think that for the situation we have been in for a year, I think that is fine. “
According to the format proposed to 24 teams, Montreal would be the last team to qualify in the East on the basis of a small percentage point margin. With 71 points in 71 games (.500), the Canadians edged Buffalo, who had 68 points in 69 games (.493) and would extend the longest drought in the active playoffs in the league to a ninth consecutive season.
The difference in the West is much greater, Chicago (0.514) beating Anaheim (0.472). The three Californian teams would miss the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.
One person with what would be one of the seven non-qualifying teams told the AP that the performance personnel were already preparing training programs for the players during a long layoff.
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“Overall, I think the players will be fine during the summer months,” said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity, as the return to play format was not approved. “Finding a creative way to keep them motivated in the fall will be the challenge.”
The NHL is ready to extend the playoffs until September and postpone the start of the 2020-21 season until January – or when fans can start playing in some way.
Anyway, Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine said on Friday.
“I just want to play and I can do whatever format they want,” said Laine. “It’s still hockey, but I don’t care about the format. It is not a problem for me. “
Carolina Hurricanes player representative Jordan Martinook said ending the season and winning the Stanley Cup would be a huge achievement.
“In a year of negativity and uncertainty, for you to have this kind of celebration, I feel like it would be a big positive for you, your family, your team, your city,” said Martinook.