NHL commissioner Gary Bettman unveiled the league's plan to return to play. Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Bettman announces NHL plans for resumption of play with 24-team playoffs

On Tuesday afternoon, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman delivered the return-to-play plan agreed upon by the league and the NHL Players' Association for the completion of the 2019-20 season suspended on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bettman announced that the regular season is over and places in standings are determined by points percentages — 24 teams, split into the top 12 from the two conferences, will be placed into separate "hub cities" for their portions of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ten cities are still being considered for the two bubble sites.

The hope is clubs will return to team facilities in early June, but formal training camp sessions won't get underway until at least early July. It's thought the Stanley Cup Playoffs will occur through the summer months into early autumn.

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers will participate in a round-robin format to determine seeding.

The St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars will play for seeding in the West.

The remaining playoff spots will be determined in best-of-five series. 

For the Eastern Conference:

  • No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 12 Montreal Canadiens
  • No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 11 New York Rangers
  • No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida Panthers
  • No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets 
  • For the Western Conference: 
  • No. 5 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks
  • No. 6 Nashville Predators vs. No. 11 Arizona Coyotes
  • No. 7 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 10 Minnesota Wild
  • No. 8 Calgary Flames vs. No. 9 Winnipeg Jets

Dates aren't set for the resumption of play due to the uncontrolled virus outbreak. As James O'Brien of NBC Sports wrote, all plans are based upon testing abilities for players and other personnel, along with ever-changing government regulations and safety guidelines. 

Teams will be limited to 50 personnel at hub cities, meaning players will quarantine away from family members for some time. 

All penciled-in schedules and plans are subject to alterations and, even, cancelations. Hockey isn't officially back after today's announcement, but the league is closer to crowning a Stanley Cup champion than it's been since March 12.

Zac Wassink is a football and futbol aficionado who is a PFWA member and is probably yelling about Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. Erik Lamela and Eli Manning apologist. Chanted for Matt Harvey to start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field. Whoops. You can find him on Twitter at @ZacWassink

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