NBC News- The NHL season will resume this summer, directly into playoffs that’ll be contested in two “hub cities” for the duration of the tournament, Commissioner Gary Bettman
announced Tuesday. Cities now being considered as playoff hosts are Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.
The league chief said health safeguards will be “paramount” in the reopening.
“Our fans are telling us in overwhelming numbers that they want us to complete the season if at all possible,” Bettman said in remote statement.
Players will be allowed to meet in groups of, no more than six, early next month to begin practice for the renewed season, officials said Monday.
Teams and the players union have already agreed to the framework for a 24-team playoff, which would serve as the season’s restart.
The last NHL games were played on March 11, before the pandemic caused virtually all of the world’s professional sports to be put on hold.
In the post-season format announced Tuesday, the top four teams of the East – the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers – and top four of the West – the St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars – will play in round-robin competition to determine seeding for the next round.
At the same time, the next eight best teams in each conference will be paired into best-of-5 elimination series, producing four survivors in each conference to meet the eight seeded teams.
The competition would then resemble a traditional Stanley Cup playoff with 16 teams playing elimination series until a champion is crowned.
The St. Louis Blues won last season’s Stanley Cup, the first championship in the franchise’s history.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.