Blackhawks

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: Completing regular season 'may not be possible'

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: Completing regular season 'may not be possible'

When the NHL announced on March 12 that the 2019-20 season would be put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, commissioner Gary Bettman said the goal is to resume play and award the Stanley Cup at some point. And that remains true as we approach the one-month mark of the hiatus.

But in an interview on Tuesday with NBC Sports Network's Mike Tirico on "Lunch Talk Live,” Bettman acknowledged that completing an 82-game season might not be in the cards.

"Everything we do needs to be fair," Bettman said. "The best thing, and the easiest thing, would be if, at some point, we could complete the regular season and then go into the playoffs as we normally do. We understand that that may not be possible, and that's why we're considering every conceivable alternative to deal with whatever the eventuality is. It doesn't even pay to speculate because nobody in any of the sports knows enough now to make those profound decisions."

Bettman said the NHL is discussing every possible option, and nothing appears to be off limits. That includes playing well into the summer, which Bettman said would be feasible as far as ice conditions go.

But it's still too early to tell what's going to happen, and Bettman is hoping there will be more clarity by the end of April.

"From an NHL standpoint, we're viewing all of our options," Bettman said. "We want to be ready to go as soon as we get a green light. And the green light may not be crystal clear because there may still be some places in the [U.S. and Canada] where we can't play and other places where you can.

"We're looking at all options. Nothing's been ruled in, nothing's been ruled out. And it's largely going to be determined what we do by how much time there is because we have next season to focus on, as well, and the health of the countries."

RELATED: How Blackhawks could be affected by COVID-19 crisis

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NHLPA authorizes further negotiations with NHL on 24-team return-to-play format

NHLPA authorizes further negotiations with NHL on 24-team return-to-play format

The NHL Players' Association Executive Board announced Friday night that it has agreed to the NHL's proposed 24-team return-to-play format. The voting process involving all 31 player representatives began Thursday night but the results were not made official until Friday.

"The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup," the NHLPA said in a statement. "Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.​"

If and when the final details are agreed upon, the format would feature 12 teams from both the Eastern and Western Conference with the top four teams based on current points percentage each earning a first-round bye. In the East, the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers would secure the 1-4 seeds while the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars would do the same in the West.

Seeds 5-12 would feature a best-of-5 play-in series to determine the bottom four seeds in the Stanley Cup playoffs while the top four seeds would compete against each other in a round-robin format to determine the official seeding.

The Blackhawks, in this format, are slated to take on the Edmonton Oilers. They went 2-1-0 and had a plus-1 goal differential against the Oilers this season.

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Report: NHL playoff proposal including Blackhawks expected to be approved by NHLPA

Report: NHL playoff proposal including Blackhawks expected to be approved by NHLPA

On Friday, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the NHL's playoff proposal is expected to get approved by the NHLPA. 

"While last night’s NHLPA executive committee conference call got a little heated at times, and various individual players still have a wide variety of views on the NHL’s (Return to Play) format, the exec committee vote by team is expected to result in NHLPA approval of the NHL plan," McKenzie tweeted. 

Related: Blackhawks to play Oilers in 24-team playoff proposal

The 12th place in the Western Conference Blackhawks make the cut in the 24-team playoff proposal that gives the top four teams in each conference a bye with the remaining teams competing in a best-of-5 play-in round. The remainder of this year's potential playoff rounds would be best-of-7. 

Related: Patrick Kane a reason players voted against best-of-3 series

"If that is indeed the case, and I believe team by team balloting has concluded or will conclude shortly, it should pave the way for the NHL and NHLPA to perhaps formally announce the (Return to Play) format in the coming days. We are not, however, expecting that format announcement to come with any timetable or critical date roll-out, not yet anyway," McKenzie added.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

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