NHL, Players Discuss Resuming Season with 24-Team Playoff

Philadelphia Flyers right wing Kevin Hayes (13) slates with the puck against New York Rangers right wing Vitali Kravtsov (74) during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

The NHL and the NHL Player Association announced Friday night that they have reached an agreement to move forward on a plan to start the season up again, beginning with a 24-team playoff.

The season was suspended due to the coronavirus on March 12, when most teams had completed about 70 games of an 82-game schedule. The regular season was set to wrap up in April, with the 16-team Stanley Cup Playoffs extending into early June.

The revised plan calls for 24 teams to participate in a playoff, while the bottom seven team would basically have their seasons finished.

“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.

It continued, “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.”

Last week, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the season could return with games being played in centralized locations. That would eliminate the need for travel along with additional exposure to the coronavirus for players and team personnel.

He added that access to tests remains a key issue in resuming the season.

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