NHL Commissioner: Regular season over, 24-team playoff in 2 cities

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Columbus Blue Jackets’ Boone Jenner celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

(WCMH) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday outlined plans for the NHL season to resume. Bettman announced the regular season is over and the rest of the season will include a 24-team playoff.

The playoff will consist of 12 teams from each conference, as determined by the standings on March 11.

The top four teams in each conference will receive an automatic birth in the first round of the playoffs. The top four teams will play each other to determine first round seeding.

The remaining eight teams in each conference will play a best-of-five games qualifying round with the winner advancing to the first round of the playoffs. The matchups are based on point percentage at the time of the season being paused on March 11. These games will be played with playoff overtime rules.

The playoffs will take place in two hub cities, which will be determined at a later date. There will be one city for each conference.

Here are the 10 cities being considered as a hub city for the playoffs:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Edmonton, AB
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  • Pitssburgh, PA
  • Toronto, ON
  • Vancouver, BC

It has yet to be determined if the first and second round of the playoffs will be a best-of-five game series or a best-of-seven game series.

Bettman said the NHL is in phase one of its current pause. He said he believes the NHL will enter phase two in early June.

Phase three will be the opening of formal training camps while phase four will consist of each team reporting to a hub city for the playoffs where they will then resume play.

“We anticipate playing in the summer and into the early fall,” Bettman said. “At this time, we are not fixing dates because the schedule of our return to play will be determined both by developing circumstances and the needs of our players.”

A maximum of 50 team personnel will be allowed to travel for the playoffs.

The league suspended its season on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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