On Tuesday, commissioner Gary Bettman said the league had taken the step of scrapping the remaining regular season games to move forward with the playoffs.
"Since March 12, we've been hopeful and optimistic that by developing all options and alternatives, we could get to this point. I know I join sports fans everywhere when I say we can not wait for our players to hit the ice again".
Many details are what many of us already know - as the NHLPA's Executive Board signed off on the league's proposed 24-team tournament last week.
The NHL has opted to proceed with a 24-team playoff format, adding eight more clubs than normal into the mix for a shot at winning the Stanley Cup this year, a decision that has been heralded by some fans and ridiculed by others.
Phase 2 of the league's plan, expected to commence in early June, will involve players returning to their home facilities in small groups and voluntary on- or off-ice training.
Bettman did leave open the possibility that the conference and/or Stanley Cup Finals could be played in teams' home arenas if there is a "substantial change in the outlook of the pandemic".
That means the No.5 seed in each conference is scheduled to take on the No.12 seed.
Holland will now have time to engineer some draft-floor trades of prospects for draft picks with teams like the Ottawa Senators, who have a glut of them.
The qualifying round matchups will be based on points percentage, 12 Montreal Canadiens vs 5 Pittsburgh Penguins, 11 New York Rangers vs 6 Carolina Hurricanes, 10 Florida Panthers vs 7 New York Islanders, 9 Columbus Blue Jackets vs 8 Toronto Maple Leafs, 12 Chicago Blackhawks vs 5 Edmonton Oilers, 11 Arizona Coyotes vs 6 Nashville Predators, 10 Minnesota Wild vs 7 Vancouver Canucks, and 9 Winnipeg Jets vs 8 Calgary Flames. But Dallas makes the top four over Edmonton because they played two fewer games.
Here's the NHL's Timeline to return. The NHL has yet to determine whether the playoffs will be bracketed or reseeded.
Both the qualifying round and the seeding round-robin will be held at two hub cities yet to be determined, with one for the Eastern and one for the Western Conference. Bettman named Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St.
Where Will the Games Be Played?
The best guess by the league is the training camps will begin in mid- to late-July.
But the big victor in the announcement package was Oilers general manager Ken Holland, who won't likely have to give up a third-round draft pick to Calgary in the James Neal-Milan Lucic deal and saw the draft get delayed until after the Stanley Cup is presented.
Canadian cities may be ruled out depending on the country's Government, which has stricter rules in force.
Here are 5 reasons why our great city is a ideal place to host the playoffs.
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