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Full details of NHL’s return to play

Yesterday, Gary Bettman unveiled the return to play format for the NHL. Some of the details had been leaked, like the 24 team playoff format and the convoluted draft lottery, but where and when still hadn’t been discussed.

As for the where, the idea of hub cities had been discussed for a while, and the league will decide on two cities from a list of 12 qualifying cities. Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Chicago are the only cities remotely close to New York, which makes sense. The decision will be based on a bunch of common sense factors like testing and government regulations. The big thing here is that each team can only travel with 50 personnel (players, coaches, staff).

The timing and the when is still very much up in the air. There is “a chance” that training camps open in mid-July and that the qualifying and first two rounds can be completed “in a month,” with the qualifying round –Rangers vs. Carolina included– to be a best-of-five series, which is about ten days max. The first and second rounds –length of round TBD– will likely take just as long. So that checks out, but barely, and assumes best-of-five series.

Planning things out, assuming it all goes to plan, with an assumed July 1 start date for camps. Camp and a tune up game or two will take two weeks. Assuming the above paragraph holds, we will be looking at conference finals in mid August, probably taking two weeks. The Cup Finals begin in September, again lasting two weeks.

I’d venture a guess that offseason activities would be condensed to eight weeks, and the 2021-2022 season would have training camps open in November and a mid December start date. Although I can see the NHL possibly using the Winter Classic as the season opener.

Of course, all of this is subject to change. A second wave, a vaccine, a medical treatment, or an alien invasion can all alter these plans. Until then, there’s two full months of prep for the Rangers/Hurricanes matchup in July/August.

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    • When you consider that the normal training camp is now down to 3-4 weeks … and the need to “look” players over doesn’t exist, I see no reason why they would need more than 2 weeks. No testing, no need for 6 exhibition games (3-4 would suffice), etc.

    • They are pro athletes that had 2 months away from games. It’ll take time to get back into game shape. I hope we don’t see the October/November Rangers.

  • I still have my doubts that they can pull this off. When you think of all the details that have to be considered, and if they miss one thing, it could be a disaster.
    Just the idea of the players being in such close quarters with each other for such an extended period of time should give everyone pause.
    Yes, they’ll be tested regularly…but what would happen to a team if they have players that start to test positive, to the point that the roster is seriously affected. Talk about an Asterisk * Champion!
    IMO, I would just rather wait until they get a vaccine or an Official OK from the powers that be, that it’s safe to resume as close to normal as possible.
    To me, this whole idea reminds me of the old Canada Cup Tournaments..not the Playoffs.
    Its not my money, so its easy for me to say it…so I will.(;
    Scrap the Season, and the year…chalk it up as a war-time casualty…and just wait until they can put a product on the ice that is truly representative( or as close as they can) of the NHL. Just my opinion.

    • If 1 player tests positive during the playoffs, then wouldn’t every player/coach, etc. who came in contact with the positive testing player technically have to go into quarantine?! That’s my concern as to whether they can pull it off.

      • Exactly…there are so many possible scenarios, that I really can’t see how they can pull this off, without sacrificing the integrity of what they are presenting as NHL hockey.

        • Well it seems Daly said that it wasn’t necessarily the case that they would quarantine everybody, so not sure they have a plan for that.

  • My concern that the NHL’s plans would significantly impact the following season seem to be coming true. I don’t like the plan. I’d rather that they just start the following season in the beginning of October as usual, or many move it up a week or two instead of the truncated playoffs and crowd-less games.

    Maybe its just me, but I’d rather that this past season be the only one significantly affected by the pandemic if possible.

  • Drop the damn puck and get started already. If a player/coach has an underlying condition, they don’t participate. Not that hard. This is hockey not world peace.

  • This whole thing, meaning the virus and all the ramifications subsequent, has taught me one thing: There really is no right answer for making decisions going forward.

      • The health risks vary by region. Some in the northeast and south east have seen horrid numbers, while those in the middle of the country have seen a very small infection rate. Some of us are inundated with Cononavirus 24×7 by the media. In Texas, it rarely makes the news.

  • I’m all for finishing this season but this plan sounds like it may do more harm than good long term. When is the 19/20 cup gonna be awarded? In October? Then There has to be so offseason prior to the start of next season.
    Maybe we should have just put this season to rest. At least we could start the 20/21 season on time in early October.

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