National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday said that when the National Hockey League returns following its two-month hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic, it will be via a 24-team playoff tournament.
The plan is to have a 24 team playoff, with the top 12 teams in each conference having a chance to compete.
It has not been determined whether the conference finals and Stanley Cup final will be contested in a hub city, although Bettman said that "we expect those to be played in one of the two hub cities". There will not be any formal training camps, Phase 3, before July 1.
This season will see seven teams eliminated and the top 12 teams based on points percentage from the Eastern and Western Conference continuing.
Candidates for the hub cities include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Pittsburgh in the US and Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.
Bettman said the league had drawn up a long-list of candidate cities in order to retain scheduling flexibility.
"We want to support the Canucks in whatever endeavour they go forward in but we want to make sure the rules are the same for everybody", Horgan said. "We don't want to go to a place where there is a lot of COVID-19 or we don't want to go to a place where we can't get the testing we need", he said. "It must be available on wide-scale basis without obstructing local needs".
Deputy Commissioner Daly discussed the factors that led to the decision to hold the draft following the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and not hold a draft before the return to play.
"I know I join sports fans everywhere when I say we can not wait for our players to hit the ice again".
The top four "bye" teams in each conference would face each other to stay sharp, and for playoff seeding.
Along with the actual venue for these playoff games, these hub cities will also provide the 12 teams in each conference with secure hotels, practice facilities and in-market transportation. The Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche and Las Vegas Golden Knights are all second at +700. The NHL has not yet determined whether the next two rounds - considered the first and second rounds - will be best-of-five or best-of-seven series, but the conference finals and Stanley Cup Finals will both be best-of-seven series.
"When the given go-ahead from the medical experts and the relevant government authorities is given, 24 of our 31 teams will resume play", Bettman said in a video detailing the NHL's return-to-play plan.
While reports of other sports leagues considering return-to-play plans have circulated, no other major league in North America has formally announced its intentions like the NHL.