The NHL has revised their playoff series for 24 competing clubs in their return-to-play plan.
Great news, Chicago. Just when you thought the Hawks didn’t have a chance for the 2020 playoff series, a little pandemic put them right back on track for playoff contention. In the newly released return-to-play plan from the NHL, 24 teams will compete for Lord Stanley’s cup, including the Chicago Blackhawks.
Back in March, the National Hockey League announced that it would pause its season in the wake of the coronavirus. Yesterday, NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, announced his return-to-play plan, indicating that the regular season was concluded, and that it would instead go ahead with playoffs.
The @NHL has released a Return to Play Plan for the 2019-20 season.
◾ 24 teams to compete for #StanleyCup
◾ 2 hub cities will host games
◾ Protocol for return to training
◾ Draft Lottery
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 26, 2020
Return-to-play signals the league’s framework for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, in which the top 12 teams (24 in total) in each conference rated by points percentage at the time of the league’s pause, would compete for the cup.
This means that the remaining six teams, including: Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks, have effectively been eliminated from contention.
At the time of the pause in play, the Blackhawks were the last seed in the Western Conference as the 12th seed. Despite this, they will go on to play the Edmonton Oilers (5th seed) in a best-of-five series. During the season, the Blackhawks beat the Oilers two out of three encounters. While Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl were the leading scorers in the regular season, the Hawks do have playoff Kane.
The games would be hosted in 2 hub cities — one for eastern conference games, the other for the western conference. As of now, those cities have yet to be identified, but those in the running include:
- Columbus, OH
- Dallas, TX
- Edmonton, AB
- Las Vegas, NV
- Los Angeles, CA
- Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Toronto, ON
- Vancouver, BC
The hub cities would need to have “secure hotels, arena, practice facilities, and in-market transportation.” Each team will only be allowed 50 personnel in the hub cities of choosing.
Bettman also announced that an extensive, comprehensive system of testing would be in place before resuming with the plan.
“The reason we are doing this is because our fans are telling us, in overwhelming numbers, that they want us to finish the season if at all possible,” said Bettman on NBC Sports Network. “And our players and our teams are clear that they want to play and bring the season to its rightful conclusion.”
The Blackhawks last appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was in 2016 against the St. Louis Blues, the latter of which would go on to win the series four games to three.
See also: Chicago aims to reopen by early June.
[Featured image: @chicagoblackhawks]