NHL: How They Plan to Play the Stanley Cup in America
It seems that the National Hockey League is ready for action and is developing a concrete plan for the return of hockey in the summer. The well-known TSN observer Pierre Lebrun reported that the NHL and the NHLPA had made significant progress in discussing the format of the upcoming Stanley Cup. As expected, this will be a format in which 24 teams will make it into the playoffs. The parties must make their final confirmations of this decision in the next couple of days.
Teams will enter the playoffs right away, which means that there will be no sense in re-playing the regular season and the 2019-2020 regular season will go down in history as a season in which the teams played a differing number of regular-season matches (from 68 to 71). Besides, there is a group of seven teams without a chance to enter even the expanded playoff. For them, the upcoming resumption of matches does not mean anything, as they will not play until the start of next season. These seven include the worst league clubs of this season in terms of their records: Detroit, Ottawa, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, New Jersey, and Buffalo. However, according to the information given by Lebrun, the 24 teams should not celebrate too much, either. An additional, preliminary qualifying round is possible before the start of the playoffs.
According to another version, the seasons of the seven worst teams will end immediately and a 24-team tournament will be used to determine the top 8 teams, which will go into the actual playoffs. The results will be cleverly calculated from the combination of points obtained in the regular season and the 24 team tournament. This will significantly complicate the understanding of the system by fans and their ability to predict outcomes. However, as Gary Bettman said, one of the key principles for the NHL is honesty, so no team will receive free tickets to the playoffs.