NHL, players discussing resuming season with 24-team playoff

Ross Houston
May 23, 2020

On Friday evening, the NHLPA executive board announced that the association has agreed to the basics of a 24-team return-to-play format, but more details remain to be negotiated by both sides on other issues before a final agreement comes together.

"The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the victor of the 2020 Stanley Cup", the NHLPA said in a statement.

More hard, complex issues lay ahead, and there may be details still to be hammered out, such as bracketing versus reseeding, but the players association's executive board comprised of 31 team player reps did authorize the union to move forward and negotiate outstanding issues with the understanding that the league would reopen with an expanded 24-team tournament if the parties are able to surmount massive obstacles to stage a summer comeback following the March 12 pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The players have agreed to the format, despite the fact that other critical issues still have to be negotiated, reports TSN's Pierre LeBrun, who reiterated a point he made earlier Friday that the National Hockey League will now have to conduct its own "process", with an announcement expected to come within the next few days. Locations mentioned as potential sites include Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Las Vegas. The league has said it wants to ensure a full 82-game schedule in 2020-21.

This format would lead to the traditional four rounds of seven-game series. The 2019-20 campaign was halted with 189 games left on the slate, while clubs had played anywhere from 68 to 71 contests. They would play the Canadiens in the best-of-five play-in round.

The fourth seed in each conference would face the victor of the matchup between the 5 and 12 seeds, with the No. 3 seed taking on the victor of the 6-11 matchup. They definitely didn't deserve to, but Montreal grabbed the last spot only based on their points percentage. Buffalo would be guaranteed to miss the playoffs for a league-high ninth straight season, while all three California team would fail to make the cut in the same year for the first time since 1995-96.

Winnipeg sniper Patrik Laine said earlier Friday before the announcement that getting back on the ice is what matters. "It's not an issue for me".

The NHLPA's executive board reportedly held a conference call to discuss the league's 24-team playoff format Thursday night, after which it initiated a vote.

Other reports by iNewsToday