The NHL Player ‘Association executive board has voted on a 24-team playoff proposal in return for its play format, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The man spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the vote was still ongoing. The results of the vote could be as early as Friday night.
Although the executive board has voted to approve the format, it has yet to cover the deal for the NHL season. The league and players union still has to negotiate other details, including health and safety protocols.
But formatting is a big part of getting back to playing the puzzle.
Under the plan proposed by the joint NHL / NHLPA Return To Play Committee, the top four teams each in the Eastern and Western Conference will each play for the seedlings while the remaining 16 teams face a best- of-five series play- in the rotation to set the final 16 to compete for the Stanley Cup.
That means byes for Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia in the East and St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas in the West. Pittsburgh, Carolina the New York Islanders and Rangers, Toronto, Columbus, Florida and Montré will also make it to the East and Edmonton, Nashville, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Arizona and Chicago to the West.
“I feel like if you do the 24-team thing, it really gives a team a chance without a chance to do it, that if you play 82 there’s a 6, 8% chance that the team in the 12th place (in the conference) is accomplished, “Carolina player representative Jordan Martinook said Wednesday, more than 24 hours before the executive board meeting. “It’s never been seen before, but at the end of the day, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are 16 teams, seven games in a series.”
This format will lead to the traditional four-cycle seven-game series.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a perfect scenario where everyone is super excited,” Nashville’s Ryan Johansen said Thursday. “As long as everyone can agree and be happy with the decision to make, that’s what matters.”
If the NHLPA executive board and the league’s board of governors approve the plan, the return will be set. Where, when and how much remains to be determined, including how many cities will be offering games, quarantine regulations and testing.
“Nothing really is certain, so things can change quickly and they have to do things differently,” Play committee member James van Riemsdyk told the Flyers on Wednesday. “We try to keep many options open and navigate through different things and hope to have a vision that is clearly first and foremost for the health and safety of all.”
Commissioner Gary Bettman this week said the league is looking at eight or nine locations to serve as hub cities for the resumption of the season.
It’s unclear when the league and players will agree to begin the second phase of preparation for the return, with the reopening of team training facilities and voluntary workouts. The following step is likely to be a three-week training camp before the games continue.
“Obviously it’s important to navigate through all the different issues we have so that eventually we can try to find a safe way to get things going here,” van Riemsdyk said. “There have been a couple of different conversations and things like that and talking about a whole lot of different things and trying to sort out a few different issues.
AP Sports writer Teresa M. Walker of Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.
For more coverage of the AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports