- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 17, 2020

The NHL and NHLPA are discussing a unique 24-team tournament to precede the Stanley Cup Playoffs whenever hockey is able to return, reports said.

First revealed by French Canadian outlet TVA Sports and confirmed by Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and TSN, the format would include 24 teams to account for lost regular-season games and the uncertainty of which teams would lock up the final bids to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Conveniently, the top 24 teams in the league standings are split evenly, 12 and 12, from each conference. The reported plan calls for round-robin tournaments among the four divisions, with minimal changes needed - the New York Rangers would be moved into the Atlantic Division and the Minnesota Wild into the Pacific Division for balance.

The participants and their respective divisions would be:

Metropolitan: Capitals, Flyers, Penguins, Hurricanes, Islanders, Blue Jackets



Atlantic: Bruins, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Panthers, Canadiens, Rangers

Central: Blues, Avalanche, Stars, Jets, Predators, Stars, Blackhawks

Pacific: Golden Knights, Oilers, Flames, Canucks, Coyotes, Wild

The format is a bit convoluted: First, every team would play every other participant from its division round robin-style. The top two teams from each division would qualify for the next round, and the remaining teams would face off in some best-of-three series to decide who else goes through.

Then, with 16 teams, the NHL would return to the normal Stanley Cup Playoffs format.

As was previously reported, the league is leaning toward resuming games in four team markets where several teams would stay at a time.

LeBrun reported that the league and the players’ union made progress over the weekend, with more talks to come in the next few days. He also said the league may announce this week what it will do about the NHL draft, which was originally scheduled for June 26-27.

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