NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman Details The Return Of Hockey

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Nicholas Elias Contributor
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Gary Bettman spoke in a fifteen minute video Tuesday about the return of the NHL 2019-2020 season.

The plan includes the playoff format, as well as seeding, the draft lottery, host sites, and how the teams will operate.

“The reason we are doing this is because our fans are telling us in overwhelming numbers that they want us to complete the season,” said Bettman in the video release, “our players, and our teams are clear that they want to play and bring the season to it’s rightful conclusion.” (RELATED: World TeamTennis Will Have Fans At Matches)

Bettman also said that the league will not resume until they are assured by medical professionals and governments that play is safe for players and officials. He also said that the exact date for the return of hockey will not be released until more information is gathered and decisions are made.

There will be 24 teams resuming play and competing for the Stanley Cup. Those teams were decided on the best points percentage in the regular season, meaning the amount of points gained per games played. The 12 teams from the Eastern Conference will play in one city and the 12 teams from the Western Conference will play in another city.

The NHL is looking at Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver as the possible host cities.

Teams in the top four positions in both conferences are automatically eligible for playoff play, but will compete in a round-robin set of games to determine seeding. Teams not in a top-four spot will play each other in a best of five series to determine who gets into the playoffs.

Bettan also discussed the draft lottery, which could possibly now have two phases. “This is a bit complicated,” Bettman said. Phase 1 would occur on June 26th and feature a standard lottery with the bottom 15 teams in the league. If the bottom seven teams who are not returning to play occupy the top three selections in the draft there is no need for a second phase as the results would not change based on points percentage.

However, if a team returning to play wins the draft lottery Phase 2 will commence before the conference semifinals. Each of the eight teams eliminated in their tournaments will be given an equal chance of being placed in the top three. Once the top three are decided, the remainder of the first round will be placed into the draft in the reverse order of their win percentage during the regular season. 

“The health and safety of our players, coaches, essential support staff and our communities are paramount,” Bettman said in the video. “While nothing is without risk, ensuring health and safety has been central to all of our planning so far and will remain so.”