O NHL and the NHLPA are discussing an exclusive 24-team tournament to precede the Stanley Cup Playoffs whenever hockey can return, reports said.
Revealed by TVA Sports in France and confirmed by Pierre LeBrun The Athletic and TSN, the format would be include 24 teams responsible for games lost in the regular season and the uncertainty of which teams would lock the final bids for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Conveniently, the top 24 teams in the league standings are divided equally, 12 and 12, in each conference. The reported plan calls for round-robin tournaments between the four divisions, with minimal changes required – the New York Rangers would be moved to the Atlantic Division and Minnesota Wild to the Pacific Division for balance.
Participants and their respective divisions would be:
Metropolitan: Capitals, leaflets, penguins, hurricanes, islets, blue jackets
Atlantic: Bruins, Lightning, Maple Leaves, Panthers, Canadians, Rangers
Central: Blues, avalanche, stars, jets, predators, stars, blackhawks
Pacific: Gold Saints, Oilers, Flames, Canucks, Coyotes, Wild
The format is a bit complicated: first, the whole team would play with all the other participants in the division round, in the robin style. The top two teams in each division would qualify for the next round, and the remaining teams would face off in some of the best series of three to decide who else would pass.
So, with 16 teams, the NHL would return to the normal Stanley Cup Playoff format.
As previously reported, the league is inclined to resume games in four team markets, where several teams remain at the same time.
LeBrun reported that the league and the players' union progressed over the weekend, with more negotiations in the coming days. He also said the league could announce this week what it will do with the NHL draft, originally scheduled for June 26 and 27.