NHL Sets Return With 24-Team Playoff, But Gives No Date for Resumption of Play

Hockey league has been on ice since mid-March

Last Updated: May 26, 2020 @ 3:17 PM

The NHL still doesn’t know when it will return to the ice, but the league detailed its plan for how it will come back.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday said that when the NHL returns following its two-month hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic, it will be via a 24-team playoff tournament. Bettman confirmed that the 2019-20 regular season is officially completed.

The expanded postseason tournament will feature the top 12 teams in each conference as of March 11, the day before the season was suspended. The postseason will be held in two “Hub Cities” that the league will announce later; potential sites include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Las Vegas and Toronto.

Bettman did not announce a specific date for the resumption of play, though noted that training camp would not begin any earlier than July.  “We will not do anything until we are assured by medical professionals and the relevant gov authorities that it is safe to do so,” he said during remarks televised by NBCSN.

The NHL suspended its season on March 12, one day after the NBA did the same following Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert’s positive test.

The NBA is eyeing a late-July return at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, though the league has yet to make any formal plans on a return.

In recent weeks, the UFC and NASCAR have returned, albeit without any spectators. Germany’s top soccer league Bundesliga resumed play earlier this month, and last Saturday,Spain’s La Liga received clearance from Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez to resume its season in early June.

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