On Tuesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman explained plans for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Draft Lottery.NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Breaks Down Plans for Playoffs — Prime Time Sports Talk
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a plan to resume play with the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Bettman opened his statement by revealing that the 2019-20 season has been deemed complete; the next game played will kick off the playoffs.
The top four teams in each conference will claim automatic berths in the playoffs and will conduct a round-robin to determine seeding. Ties in these games will be broken by regular-season seeding.
Eight more teams from each conference (ranked by regular-season points percentage) will play in series that follow the playoff format. The winners of this round will play the top seeds in Round 1.
These matchups will go down as follows:
Penguins vs. Canadiens
Hurricanes vs. Rangers
Islanders vs. Panthers
Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets
Oilers vs. Blackhawks
Predators vs. Coyotes
Canucks vs. Wild
Flames vs. Jets
Bettman added that games will be played in hub cities, with the Western Conference playing in one city and the Eastern Conference playing in another.
The league has yet to determine which cities will be chosen, but Bettman did state that following cities are up for consideration:
Las Vegas, Nev.
Los Angeles, Cali.
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
The first two rounds’ formats are up in the air, but the Finals will occur as a best-of-seven series.
Teams can return in early June with small-group gatherings on or off the ice, but full-team training camps won’t return until mid-July.
Finally, Bettman addressed the Draft Lottery, which could occur in two phases. The first phase will occur on June 26 with 15 teams eligible. These 15 teams consist of the seven not resuming play and eight blank slots for teams that are eliminated from the qualifying round. If a blank spot is selected for any one of the top three picks, Phase 1 will be canceled and Phase 2 will occur once the first eight teams are eliminated.
A lot remains to be seen regarding the future of the season, but there is growing optimism that the NHL’s resumption could cause the NBA and MLB to return soon.