NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the NHL’s Return to Play Plan, as well as details around the 2020 draft lottery, in an exclusive announcement on Tim & Sid on Tuesday. Watch live here as Tim & Sid react to the announcement on Sportsnet, SN 360, Sportsnet 590 The Fan and sportsnet.ca.
Scheduled today (all times approximate)…
4:30pm ET – @NHL Formal Announcement
4:45pm ET – Gary Bettman joins live
5:30pm ET – Donald Fehr joins live
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) May 26, 2020
When given the go-ahead from medical experts and relevant government authorities, the NHL plans to resume with a 24-team format in which the top-four teams in each conference will advance directly into the first round of the playoffs, while the remaining 16 teams will play in a best-of-five “qualifying round” series.
Bettman’s announcement comes a day after the NHL revealed Phase 2 of its Return to Play Plan, which includes protocols for travelling to club cities, testing, opening practice facilities for small group workouts, and the wearing of personal protective equipment when entering and leaving club facilities.
The league says it is currently targeting early June for the introduction of this second phase, though no firm date had been set as of Monday. Dates or guidelines around training camps or the resumption of the 2019-20 campaign were not included in Monday’s announcement.
On Friday, player representatives from all 31 teams voted to continue negotiations over a proposed 24-team return-to-play format.
The NHL season has been on pause since March 12 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all players currently remain under league-mandated quarantine.