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Insider Only Key Takeaways & Rumblings on the NHL’s 24-Team Return to Play Plan

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman today revealed the NHL’s 24-team Return to Play plan.

Here are the key takeaways:


1. Gary Bettman today was able to at least paint a picture on what the NHL is trying to do in restarting the season. A lot of what he said has matched the rumblings of late but the clock is ticking where things had reached the point where some movement had to be made on the ‘developing a plan’ process.

“Any plan for the resumption of play, by definition, cannot be perfect and I am certain that depending on which team you root for you can find some element of this package that you might prefer be done differently,” said Bettman in a detailed media conference. “We believe we have constructed an overall plan that includes all teams that as a practical matter might have had a chance of qualifying for the playoffs when the season was paused.”

24-Team Return to Play


*Rigorous Testing
*Games will be played in two Hub Cities
*Training Camps will not begin until around July 1 at the earliest
*Round Robin: Top-4 teams in each conference play for first round seed
*Qualifying Round: Remaining 8 teams play best-of-5 series to advance to the first round
*First & Second Round: Format and series length to be determined (Best-of-5 or Best-of-7)
*Conference Finals/Stanley Cup Final: Best-of-7


2. Despite the NHLPA voting 29-2 in passing the 24-team format, there are a number of hurdles that remain as the NHL is just venturing into phase 2 over the coming weeks.

One dynamic that continues is there’s much more optimism from the league office than the players that there actually will be a resumption of the season later this summer. There are certainly fears inside the league that things will get close to the finish line come early July but the two sides will fail to punch it in from the two yard line for various reasons, some out of their control.

We shall see but Bettman today gave some confirmation to the best case scenario’s that have been floating around for weeks.

The growing sense for at least six weeks in NHL circles is that a best case scenario with the NHL models has been resuming games in late July, early August. Bettman pretty much confirmed that today, indicating training camps would not start until early July (best case), meaning games won’t start until late July, early August (best-case).


3. Bettman confirmed the latest chatter that the return to play format will be in two Hub cities. He also named 10 cities, including Pittsburgh under consideration and that the league doesn’t need to make a decision for another 3-4 weeks.

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*Vegas
*Columbus
*St. Paul
*Pittsburgh
*Los Angeles
*Dallas
*Chicago

Despite 10 still being on the NHL’s board, there’s clear favorites and longshots already established.

Vegas is the heavy favorite to be one of the hub cities but the Canadian government’s protocol of a mandatory 14-day quarantine projects to complicate the NHL’s desire to have one U.S. city and one Canadian city.

Over the weekend, there was talk among General Manager’s that (as of right now) Vegas and Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

One high ranking source ranked Pittsburgh Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" Pittsburgh has been a bit of a late player in this compared to Vegas, Columbus and St. Paul for instance. The lower than expected number of cases in the area and the hotel setup has propelled Pittsburgh into the discussion, even with the NHL leery they would have the type of support they would need at l Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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