National Hockey League players approve format for return; Panthers would qualify for playoffs

Ruben Hill
May 25, 2020

The NHLPA's executive board reportedly held a conference call to discuss the league's 24-team playoff format Thursday night, after which it initiated a vote.

"Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play", the NHLPA added.

And while the belief has nearly always been that the NHLPA would vote to continue, multiple reports noted that the call on Thursday night was at times contentious and even heated, as not everybody has been on board with the NHL's plans to resume, the 24-team format, and the financial particulars of a potential return. 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. This agreement simply authorizes further negotiation between the National Hockey League and NHLPA. and is the framework of a plan on which to build off since the regular season was placed on pause on March 12 amid the coronavius pandemic.

Voting on the plan - to play behind closed doors and in hub cities - was expected to take place on Friday. The top four Western Conference teams would be the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars.

The top four seeds in the Eastern Conference would be the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. Under this format, the Penguins would play a best-of-five against the Canadiens, 12th in the East and 23rd overall, for the right to advance to the first round. Expect one of the hubs to be in Canada. Major issues such as testing and safety measures would be addressed by the Return to Play committee. No. 9 Winnipeg, No. 5 Edmonton vs.

In the East, the play-in series would have: No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 12 Montreal, No. 7 N.Y. Islanders vs.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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