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.
Even though they voted in favor of the new format, it wouldn't come as much of a surprise if the Bruins had a few dissenting opinions about said proposal, even if the priority for all remains getting out to the ice in a timely (and safe) fashion. The top four seeds from each conference will avoid a play-in round while the remaining eight teams will engage in best-of-five series that will blur the division lines in order to complete the customary 16-team bracket for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The four winners of the best-of-five matchups in each conference would then be pitted against the top-4 seeds. In giving the format the green light, the NHLPA stressed several details still need to be negotiated before games can begin. Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Las Vegas, St. Paul, Minn., and Columbus, Ohio, are considered top contenders.
Earlier this week, the league and NHLPA issued extensive protocols once players are allowed to return to their facilities.
Carolina Hurricanes player representative Jordan Martinook said finishing the season and awarding the Stanley Cup would be a considerable feat.
The league has been shuttered since March 12 when the coronavirus pandemic led to all major North American sports leagues suspending play to avoid creating an environment where the disease was likely to spread.
The NHL will send its playoff teams to two hub cities, based on its conference.
All remaining series would be best-of-seven.
The NHL also announced the format for its draft lottery, which will be held June 26 for the seven teams outside the 24-club plan.
"I don't think there's going to be a flawless scenario where everyone's super excited about", Nashville's Ryan Johansen said earlier Thursday. The league has said it wants to ensure a full 82-game schedule in 2020-21.
"It will certainly be weird without fans or whatever the scenario unfolds to be, but I think we all have to adapt". Buffalo would be guaranteed to miss the playoffs for a league-high ninth straight season, while all three California team would fail to make the cut in the same year for the first time since 1995-96. "It's not an issue for me".