NHL Scraps Rest Of The Regular Season, Going Straight To Playoffs

The National Hockey League made it official on Tuesday that they will be finishing up the 2019-20 season. The league announced that it will scrap the rest of the regular season and go right to the playoffs with 24 teams being involved. I will get to that in a moment. The plan also included rules for the teams to return to practices and information regarding the 2020 Lottery Draft, which will take place on Friday, June 26th. The league has scrapped 189 remaining regular-season games and has come up with a unique playoff format, which I have detailed below.

Let’s get to the important stuff. The NHL is coming back folks, and it will take place in four phases.

Phase 1

Since March 12th, the league has been in Phase 1, which is all players in self-isolation.

Phase 2

In this phase, teams will be allowed to return to their home facilities. They may conduct small group (Voluntary) on and off the ice training. No more than six players on the ice at a time and coaches are not permitted to be there at the same time. Coaches and members of hockey operations will be able to watch closely once training camp actually begins or two weeks after the 2nd Phase begins. Phase 2 is expected to start in early June.

Phase 3

This phase will begin no earlier than July 1st and in this phase is where we will see training camps officially open.

Phase 4

There is no current timetable for Phase 4 to begin but I assume that it will be at least two to three weeks after Phase Three starts. In Phase 4, we will see hockey return with the playoffs and no fans.

Playoff Format

The NHL has come up with a 24-team playoff format, which will take place in two “hub” cities. The Cities have yet to be announced but it is between:

- Chicago, IL

- Columbus, OH

- Dallas, TX

- Edmonton, AB

- Las Vegas, NV

- Los Angeles, CA

- Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

- Pittsburgh, PA

- Toronto, ON

- Vancouver, BC

The top four teams in each conference will face off in Round Robin action to determine how the seeding goes for those teams. Teams five through 12 will face off in a best of five series to move one. The first round is actually going to be called the qualifying round. That way four teams from each conference will move on to make it the traditional playoffs from then on out.

Each Conference is assigned a "hub" city with secure hotels, arena, practice facilities, and in-market transportation. Teams will be limited to 50 personnel in the "hub" city with only a small number of support staff permitted to enter the event areas. Timing and sites will be determined at a future date and will be dependent on COVID-19 conditions, testing ability, and government regulations. Info in this paragraph was taken from NHL.com.

I will assume that the NHL Finals will take place in just one of the “hub” cities.

Seedings & Qualifying Round Matchups

The Eastern Conference Round Robin seedings are as follows:

1. Boston Bruins

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

3. Washington Capitals

4. Philadelphia Flyers

The Eastern Conference Qualifying Round matchups are as follow:

#5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens

#6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. #11 New York Rangers

#7 New York Islanders vs. #10 Florida Panthers

#8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets

The Western Conference Round Robin seedings are as follows:

1. St. Louis Blues

2. Colorado Avalanche

3. Vegas Golden Knights

4. Dallas Stars

The Western Conference Qualifying Round matchups are as follow:

#5 Edmonton Oilers vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks

#6 Nashville Predators vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes

#7 Vancouver Canucks vs. #10 Minnesota Wild

#8 Calgary Flames vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets

The NHL has taken positive steps to get the games going again and they are doing it safely. Note to Major League Baseball and the NBA: The ball is now in your court or field. It is time to get your act together to follow the NHL.

Info Gleaned from NHL.com.