Hockey is ready to make its return!
The National Hockey League announced on Tuesday that the league will resume play.
The NHL Players Association approved the 24-team playoff plan in a vote last Thursday.
The NHL is returning to play with a 24-team playoff format after deciding to cancel the rest of the regular season and head straight to postseason play with 24 teams grouped in two hub cities.
Each conference is assigned to a hub city. Playoff determination is ranked by points percentage.
The top four teams in each conference will play in a round robin for seeding with regular season OT/shoot out rules that apply.
The remaining eight teams in each conference will play in a best of five qualifying tournament.
The first and second round will be a best of five or best of seven series. The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will be a best of seven series.
Current hub cities under consideration by the NHL include:
- Chicago, IL
- Columbus, OH
- Dallas, TX
- Edmonton, AB
- Las Vegas, NV
- Los Angeles, CA
- Minneapolis, MN
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Toronto, ON
- Vancouver, BC
Here are a few more details regarding the resumption of play:
Phase 2-- Early June: Clubs can return to home facilities for voluntary and small groups workouts both on and off the ice
Phase 3-- Formal training camp, no earlier than July 1, likely mid-month
Phase 4: Clubs will report to hub cities. A date is not set.
Each team will be limited to 50 personnel in Hub City, small numbers of support staff permitted in event areas. There will be comprehensive testing conducted to ensure safety.
Some details from the NHL's return to play plan. pic.twitter.com/y7SPwSg6mx— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) May 26, 2020
The 2019-20 season was suspended on March 12, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Games were postponed at that time, but no games were ever canceled. The league has been working diligently to come up with a solution to get back on the ice and now they have found one.
When the 2019-20 NHL season was put on hold, the 31 teams had played a range from 68-71 games of the 82 regular season games.
When we decide it's time to play, we've got to get everybody back and be comfortable that not only are we not only infecting the population of players, but that we're not bringing the coronavirus from other places into jurisdictions where the players and other personnel are going. -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told FOX Business Network on April 15th
Even back in April, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league had been exploring the possibility of neutral sites for games.
In that same interview, Bettman mentioned that he realizes players will need 2-3 weeks to get back into game shape.
With the NHL’s announcement Tuesday, this could be a major domino effect on the rest of the professional sports leagues.
It’s really hard to imagine that once one professional sports league returns to action, the other leagues won’t follow. Plus, from the sounds of it, the NBA has been getting closer and closer to a resolution.
Over the Memorial Day Weekend, there were reports that surfaced stating the NBA is in talks with Disney about playing out the remainder of the season at its ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing. Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place. -- NBA spokesman Mike Bass on negotiations with Disney
As for Major League Baseball, the league has been working on a plan for the past few months to begin play in a safe manner, but pay has become a big factor as well.
The New York Post's Joel Sherman shared some of those details:
2/ •testing frequency— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) May 21, 2020
•protocols for positive tests
•in stadium medical personnel
•protections for high risk players and family
•access to pre and postgame therapies
The MLBPA's response comes as the union is in a stalemate with MLB owners over how to determine players' compensation.
The league and players agreed back in March to prorate salaries based on the number of games that could be played. Thus, if only half the season is played, the players would get half their salary. Yet in mid-May, USA Today reported owners approved a plan that replaced prorated salaries with a 50-50 revenue split.
The talks are ongoing.
Is getting back on the field still an ongoing plan?
For now, we just know the puck will drop for the NHL.