NHL News

NHL Return Close: 24-Team Playoffs, What it Means for Penguins  BREAKING:  NHL Adopts 24-Team Playoff If Season Starts – The NHL will abandon the rest of the regular season and go straight into the playoffs with 24 teams instead of 16 if it is able to resume play, commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday. “As we seek some return to normalcy, this is an important day for NHL fans,” Bettman said of the Return To Play Plan. “Since March 12, we’ve been hopeful and optimistic that by developing all options and alternatives, we could get to this point. I know I join sports fans everywhere when I say we cannot wait for the players to hit the ice again.” Bettman said the goal is to complete the 2019-20 season and to have an 82-game season in 2020-21. While the players and the NHL have agreed on a format, the NHL Players’ Association has not formally approved any actual return to finish the season. The league and the NHLPA also must still figure out health and safety protocols and solve other issues, including where to play. The Return To Play Plan also addresses details of the NHL draft, the draft lottery and some of the health and safety aspects of returning to play. The 2019-20 season has been halted since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Bettman said that the 2019-20 regular season is effectively over. The stats are frozen as of March 11 for the purposes of player totals and NHL Awards consideration. The NHL will now move on to a 24-team conference-based postseason format which was approved by the NHLPA last Friday by a 29-2 vote, with the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning the only teams whose representatives voted against it. The games would be held inside empty arenas at two hub cities, where players, staff and others will be housed during the season restart. Originally, the NHL was seeking four different hubs, but logistics and a refocusing on the 24-team conference format narrowed that to two. Bettman said Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh Toronto and Vancouver are being considered. The hubs will have secure arenas, hotels and practice facilities, and there would be aggressive COVID-19 testing and protocols at each site. (Greg Wyshynski/ESPN) See complete story at: https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/29225074/nhl-adopts-24-team-playoff-season-resumes

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