NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made an exciting announcement on Tuesday, explaining how the 24-team playoff format would take place and when the draft lottery and draft itself would take place.
He also announced that the 2019-20 regular season is “deemed to be completed.” The record books are closed and award winners can be selected. 24 teams will resume play in tournament hosted in two hub cities to be named later.
Bettman was however clear that resumption would not take place until it is safe for everyone involved, players, staff and fans, to do so.
General managers were informed earlier in a conference call before the league’s announcement. The National Hockey League Players’ Association Executive Board gave the green light on a 24-team Return to Play proposal last week.
We are still in the first steps of a series of things that need to go right for the NHL to resume its 2019-20 season as there remains a lot of details to iron on, however, this is encouraging news for fans, players and staff out there.
On Monday, the league released a memo Monday announcing it is targeting earlyJune as the start date of Phase 2 of its Return to Play plan, including the opening of practice rinks for small, voluntary group workouts on and off the ice. Bettman has confirmed this information during his announcement.
Phase 3 will be the opening of official training camps. However, the NHL does not believe it will be able to get Phase 3 underway until mid-July. They anticipate playing in the summer and into fall, but no dates have been set as of now.
"At this time, we are not fixing dates because the scheduling of our return to play will be determined both by developing circumstances and the needs of our players."
The 2019-20 season has been on hold since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the biggest announcement in sports since the pandemic shut down the league.