The NHLPA executive council has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on how a 24-team return to play scenario would unfold.
“The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Executive Council has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return-to-play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup,” said a press release from the NHLPA. “Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the agreement of the parties on all questions relating to the resumption of the game.”
Elliotte Friedman reported on a draft framework on Wednesday, however, all details of the framework were not approved on Friday evening.
Much remains to be done if the NHLPA approves a return to play format
May 22, 2020
According to the initial NHL proposal, the top four seeded – based on a percentage of points – in the East and West qualify for the postseason. These teams in the east are Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia and in west of St. Louis, Colorado, Dallas and Vegas.
The next eight teams from each conference will compete in a top five play-in series, with the winners competing against the top seeds in each conference.
The top four in the west and the top four in the east would be granted a pass for participating in this playoff tournament, but would play matches against each other before the playoffs begin.
In the Eastern Conference, the first round will take place as follows:
• 5. Pittsburgh c. 12. Montreal (the winner plays four seeds)
• 6. Caroline against 11. Rangers (the winner plays three seeds)
• 7. Islanders against 10. Florida (the winner plays two seeds)
• 8. Toronto v. 9. Columbus (the winner plays a seed)
And the opening round of the Western Conference is as follows:
• 5. Edmonton vs 12. Chicago (the winner plays four seeds)
• 6. Nashville versus 11. Arizona (the winner plays three seeds)
• 7. Vancouver v. 10. Minnesota (the winner plays two seeds)
• 8. Calgary v. 9. Winnipeg (the winner plays a seed)
According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, the playoff format has yet to be negotiated. Friedman’s report originally said playoffs would be “in brackets” similar to the NCAA tournament, but this was not approved in Friday’s vote and there is still potential for playoffs to be ranked based on the ranking position.
While Friday’s vote is a significant step forward, there are other essentials that still need to be resolved, such as testing protocols, visas and whether or not the league intends to use the hub cities.
The NHL still does not have a clear timetable for when it will be able to resume operations after stopping its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.