New York: The NHL became the first major North American pro sports league to unveil its formal return-to-play plan on Tuesday.
The Plan also includes an outline for the return of NHL players to their Club training facilities (Phase 2) and formal training camp (Phase 3), as well as information regarding the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.
The announcement follows approval of the Plan by the League’s Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players’ Association.
The NHL paused its season on March 12 from concerns over the coronavirus, having played 85 percent of the 2019-20 regular-season schedule that started in early October (1,082 of 1,271 games).
Here are the details about the playoff format that Gary Bettman outlined:
- There is no set start date for the return of play
- Two hub cities — one for Eastern Conference games and one for Western Conference games — will be announced at a later date
- Teams will be limited to 50 personnel in their respective hub city. A small number of support staff will also be permitted in event arenas
- A comprehensive COVID-19 testing system will be put in place
- Phase 2 of the return to play plan is expected to begin in early June, but there’s still no official date
- Phase 3 will include the start of training camp and is targeted for early July
- Phase 4, which has no target date yet, will include the return of play with clubs facing off in two hub cities for round robins, qualifying rounds, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs
The NHL is currently considering Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver as hub cities.