COLUMBUS (WCMH) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday outlined plans for the NHL season to resume. Bettman announced the regular season is over and the rest of the season will include a 24-team playoff.
The playoff will consist of 12 teams from each conference, as determined by the standings on March 11.
The top four teams in each conference will receive an automatic birth in the first round of the playoffs. The top four teams will play each other to determine first round seeding.
The remaining eight teams in each conference will play a best-of-five games qualifying round with the winner advancing to the first round of the playoffs. The matchups are based on point percentage at the time of the season being paused on March 11. These games will be played with playoff overtime rules.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be the 9th-ranked team in the Eastern Conference. CBJ will play Toronto in a best-of-five games qualifying round.
The playoffs will take place in two hub cities, which will be determined at a later date. There will be one city for each conference. Columbus is among one of 10 different cities being considered for the playoffs. Bettman said the hub cities will be determined in three to four weeks and the NHLPA will have a say in the decision.
Here are the 10 cities being considered as a hub city for the playoffs:
- Chicago, IL
- Columbus, OH
- Dallas, TX
- Edmonton, AB
- Las Vegas, NV
- Los Angeles, CA
- Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Toronto, ON
- Vancouver, BC
It has yet to be determined if the first and second round of the playoffs will be a best-of-five game series or a best-of-seven game series. The conference finals and Stanley Cup final will be a best-of-seven game series.
Bettman said the NHL is in phase one of its current pause. He said he believes the NHL will enter phase two in early June.
Phase three will be the opening of formal training camps while phase four will consist of each team reporting to a hub city for the playoffs where they will then resume play.
“We anticipate playing in the summer and into the early fall,” Bettman said. “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 our players.”
A maximum of 50 team personnel will be allowed to travel for the playoffs.
The league suspended its season on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The top four teams in the Eastern Conference are Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia.
The qualifying round in the Eastern Conference will look like this:
- No.5 Pittsburgh Penguins versus No. 12 Montreal Canadiens
- No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes versus No. 11 New York Rangers
- No. 7 New York Islanders versus No. 10 Florida Panthers
- No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs versus No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets