NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday that hockey will return this summer in a new playoff format, with the rest of the regular season schedule being cancelled.
Bettman said the 2019-2020 regular season will not be completed, and that the top 24 teams, 12 from each conference, will effectively clinch postseason berths immediately and make up the new postseason format, with the seven remaining teams not returning again this season and going straight into the NHL Draft Lottery.
Two cities will serve as hubs for the tournament’s location to better combat the coronavirus pandemic. Ten cities are vying to be selected as one of the two hubs. Those candidates will include Chicago, Columbus (OH), Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Vancouver, Toronto and Pittsburgh.
Eight teams, the top four in the East and top four in the West, will compete in a round robin tournament to determine seeding for the top teams. The remaining 16 teams will play in a best-of-5, one round play-in series, with the eight winners of the play-in rounds then joining the bracket with eight teams who already qualified to make up your usual 16-team playoff format.
Training camps aren’t expected to start until July 1st at the earliest, and there is no date set for the season to resume, but the league says the season will resume.