NHL commissioner outlines plan for hockey’s return; ‘Canes vs. Rangers set for play-in round of postseason

Carolina Hurricanes

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday the league’s outline for resuming play and awarding the Stanley Cup.

The plan ends the 2019-20 regular season and a 24-team tournament will be held to award the Stanley Cup.

The top 12 teams from each conference, in terms of points percentage at the time of the season’s March 12 pause, will make up the field.

The top four teams in each conference will automatically earn a spot in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They will play a round-robin set of games to determine seeding. The remaining eight teams from each conference will play a best-of-five series with four teams from each conference advancing to make up the 16-team first-round field for the playoffs.

The Carolina Hurricanes will play the New York Rangers in the play-in round.

The semifinal and final rounds will be best-of-seven.

Games will tentatively be played in two hub cities — one for the Eastern Conference and one for the Western Conference. The hub cities will be announced at a later date.

Raleigh is not one of the cities in contention for hosting games for the east. The sites being considered, according to Bettman, are: Vegas, Toronto, Chicago, Columbus, Edmonton, Dallas, L.A., Minnesota, Vancouver, and Pittsburgh.

Bettman said the NHL is in its first phase of this plan. That has included setting up testing and having clubs self isolate.

Phase Two of the plan, which is slated for early June, includes resuming practice. Phase Three will have teams begin training camps. Bettman said Phase Three isn’t expected to begin until July.

Bettman said health and safety of everyone involved will be paramount.

The seven teams that didn’t make it into the 24-team tournament will comprise the league’s draft lottery.

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