On Tuesday afternoon, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman officially announced the NHL Return to Play plan in four phases. Phase one is already in progress following an agreement on Friday evening. As such, Commissioner Bettman has announced that the 2019-20 season has come to end. This comes to no surprise as this was assumed for the past two months.
Phase two of the Return to Play is expected to begin in early June. This would include small groups with six players max for on-ice and off-ice workouts. As a result, this would essentially mean that phase three involves teams returning for training camp. While this would suggest careful progress, this phase isn’t expected to get going until July.
NHL Draft And Lottery
The Draft Lottery will take place on June 26th and will involve the seven clubs who are not listed in the 24-team format. If one of the picks is from one of the clubs in the 24-team format, there will be a second phase to the draft lottery which would take place once the season is over.
Host Cities And Format When Play Returns
The Eastern Conference and Western Conference will each have one hub when they return to play. Those hub cities are listed below. The top four teams in each division are automatically in and will play a round-robin for seeding while overtime rules from the season will apply. The first two rounds are expected to either be a best out of five or seven series that will be played with postseason overtime rules.
However, the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals could be played in the team’s home cities. According to Gary Bettman, the first two rounds are expected to last roughly a month before the Stanley Cup Finals. There has yet to be an official date as to when the teams will hit the ice, but from the sounds of things at this time, it’s sounding like it will be no earlier than August. As expected, team personnel aside from players will be limited to 50. Overall, it goes without saying that there will be no fans in attendance.
- Chicago, IL
- Columbus, OH
- Dallas, TX
- Edmonton, AB
- Las Vegas, NV
- Los Angeles, CA
- Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Toronto, ON
- Vancouver, BC