The executive committee of the NHL Player ‘Association is allowed to move forward with the league’s return to play from coronavirus suspensions, which will approve 24 teams making the playoffs on other aspects still agreed.
The NHLPA did not give a vote down to 31 players’ representatives making the announcement Friday night, a day after the proposal was presented to the union’s executive board. In providing a green light format, the NHLPA emphasizes some details that still need to be discussed before the games begin.
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The proposal will now go to the NHL board of governors, which is expected to approve the plan in the coming days. Once approved, the proposal effectively ends the season with seven league teams.
Under the plan proposed by the NHL / NHLPA Return To Play committee, the top four teams in each conference play each other in a mini-tournament for seeding while the remaining 16 teams face a best-of -five series play-in rotation to set the final 16 to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Although approval is considered significant, the task of establishing a path to get players back on the ice remains difficult.
The next step is that the Return To Play committee will address a host of other issues, from health and safety protocols to determine where games will be played, with the league preparing its teams group in a select number of hub cities.
Las Vegas has become the city most cited as a potential site, especially given the large concentration of hotels that can house many. Other cities mentioned include Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; San Pablo, Minnesota; and Edmonton, Alberta.
Many other questions remain unanswered, including when players can return to their teams and what non-playoff teams are allowed to do during a possible 10-month hiatus. between games.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league had a plan in place, but stopped giving details by saying it was too early to do so at this time.
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“All good questions and all questions with answers. But not in a position to answer any of them at this time,” Daly wrote in an email. “If and when we are in a position to make an announcement, we will try to make sure they are answered in that context.”
At the very least, the league outlined a plan that would start for the first time since the regular season was put to a halt on March 12.
The games can be played without the fans present. It’s unclear how the league will address players’ concerns over spending potentially long hours isolating themselves from their families.
Both sides agree that there is no good plan, while acknowledging the limitations they face because of the uncertainty created by the pandemic. The NHL regular season was paused on March 12, with 189 games left and its 31 teams playing an unmatched number of games.
“Obviously, it’s not perfect, but I think at a time like this, how can anything be so traditional?” Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie said this week. “I think we all have to adapt and be ready to adapt and kind of realize that it’s not going to be a perfect, classic NHL playoff. I think for the situation we’re in, for a year, I think that’s good.”
Under the proposed 24-team format, Montreal will be the final team to qualify in the East based on a slim score-percentage margin. With 71 points in 71 games (.500), the Canadiens are outscoring Buffalo, with 68 points in 69 games (.493) and extending the league’s longest active playoffs in the ninth straight. – next time.
The difference in the West is greater, with Chicago (.514) beating Anaheim (.472). All three teams in California will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.
A person with one of the seven non-playoff teams told The AP that the performance staff was already preparing workout programs for players in what would be a long-standing soliloquy.
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“In general, I think the players will be fine during the summer months,” the man said, speaking on condition of anonymity because playing in the format of the play was not approved. “Finding creative ways to keep them motivated in the fall will be a challenge.”
The NHL is open to having the playoffs in September and pushing for the start of the 2020-21 season in late January – or if fans can start attending the games in some capacity.
Whatever the need, Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine said Friday.
“I just want to play, and I can do whatever format they decide,” Laine said. “It’s still hockey, but I don’t care about the format. It’s not an issue for me.”
Carolina Hurricanes player representative Jordan Martinook said ending the season and paying tribute to the Stanley Cup would be a big move.
“In a year of such negativity and uncertainty, for you to have that kind of celebration, I feel like it’s going to be a huge positive for you, your family, your team, your city,” Martinook said .