National Hockey League deems season concluded, will resume with 24-team playoff

Detroit Red Wings vs. Philadelphia Flyers

NHL, players union approve 24-team playoff format after heated vote, Philadelphia Flyers get opening round bye: report

The NHL and the NHL Player Association reached an agreement Friday night to move forward on a plan to resume the season, starting with a 24-team playoff.

The NHL Players' Assn. approved the general concept of the NHL's proposal to resume play and complete the 2019-20 season, saying Friday it will continue talks with the league regarding key points of the return-to-play plan.

The other eight teams in each conference would play best-of-five "play-in" series - No. 5 versus No. 12, No. 6 versus No. 11, No. 7 versus No. 10, and No. 8 versus No. 9 - to determine the 16 clubs left standing in the playoffs. The results of those three games would have the potential to rearrange seeding, in the instance that a four-seed swept the three games against the Top 3 in the conference for example. This would eliminate the need for travel and additional exposure to the coronavirus among players and team personnel.

St. Paul is interested in being one of those hubs.

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There is still no timetable for the resumption of game action or when players can return to team facilities for voluntary workouts. "Nobody's ever seen this before, but at the end of the day, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are 16 teams, seven games a series".

Pittsburgh was six points clear of a playoff spot.

Apart from the remaining steps involved in getting back on the ice, the National Hockey League still needs to settle on a draft format, while the seven clubs that would be outside the 24-team bracket could be sidelined for eight, nine or even 10 months, depending by the time the 2020-21 campaign begins.

The NHL playoffs traditionally involve eight teams from each conference, with the victor having to navigate four best-of-seven series following a full schedule.

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The NHL is open to having the playoffs extend into September and pushing the start of the 2020-21 season as late as January - or when fans can begin attending games in some capacity.

Toronto defenceman Tyson Barrie conceded this week that any format would have its flaws.

"In a time like this how can anything be super traditional?" he said.

Tampa Bay hasn't been the only top team to coast to the playoffs only to get upended by the eighth seed. "I think for the situation we're in, for a year, I think that's fine". "It's just still hockey, but I don't mind the format".

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