NHL Hammers Out Agreement About Playoff Format

After the pause of the league that eventually led to an agreement with the NHLPA to scrap the rest of the regular season and go straight to an expanded playoff field, there were plenty of questions and details that needed to be ironed out. We know that there is a 24-team field as opposed to a normal 16-team one. In addition, we know that there is a qualifying round with the series being best of five, with the winners advancing to the regular field. We also know that the top four teams in each conference will play in a round-robin tournament while the qualifying round goes on with the seeding being determined by the results.

Now, we have more information about how the rest of the postseason will shake out, giving us more answers to the questions that were being asked.

According to reports, the league and the NHLPA have reached an agreement on how the postseason will unfold. After the qualifying round takes place and the regular 16-team field is set, the series will shift from best of five to best of seven. Series will remain best of seven for the rest of the postseason. In addition to that, as opposed to what it’s been in previous seasons, the league will reseed teams after each round. In addition, the league is still planning and on track for training camps to take place in the month of July, according to an email from deputy commissioner Bill Daly to ESPN on Thursday. Training camps are expected to last about three weeks though that still has to be worked out with the NHLPA. Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that he will seek input from the players in order to reach a compromise that is fair for all involved.

The league has announced that the postseason restart will take place in two hub cities, to be determined from a current field of 10 candidates. There are hopes that at least one of the two cities will be a Canadian city, though Canada would have to ease up on the 14-day quarantine period for people that cross the border. The main reason for having a hub city north of the border has little to do with placating a fan base or appealing to television coverage. No, it’s about one thing when you get right down to it: cold, hard cash. With the US dollar worth currently $1.35 Canadian, it would simply be cheaper to stage games north of the border, which definitely would be appealing given the lost revenues of having games with no fans.

When it comes to player safety and such, the league plans to test players daily once play actually resumes. Bettman hasn’t committed to a firm date for return yet, making the following statement last week:

"I think realistically, if we're in training camp mid-July, that would be a good thing, and if we can be playing by the end of July or the beginning of August, that would be a good thing too. But if it has to slide more, then it'll slide."

There still are things to hammer out but players at least know that if they get through the qualifying round and into the regular field of 16 teams, that the playoffs will be as normal. We’ll see seven-game series all the way through to the Stanley Cup Finals to crown a champion. In a season fraught with changes and upheaval, at least there is some sense of normalcy when you get right down to it. During these trying times, that is something that one can look to a bastion of things returning to what we’re used to.

Author Profile
Chris King

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it's playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he's checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO. If it's out there, he's covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career. Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He's written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you're looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.