NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, unveils the NHL’s Return to Play Plan for the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It has been over two months since the NHL suspended its season due to the novel coronavirus back on March 12. On Tuesday, the Commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman, unveiled the Return to Play Plan for the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The plan includes a 24 team playoff format as well as the rules for the 2020 NHL draft.
The tournament will begin with a 16-team, eight-series Qualifying Round and a Seeding Round Robin among the top four teams in each Conference to determine seeds for the First Round of the Playoffs. The teams who will be playing in the Qualifying Round were determined by points percentage as of the date the NHL suspended its season. Seven teams did not qualify for the tournament. The Qualifying Round will be in a best-of-5 series.
The NHL has yet to announce the two “Hub Cities” that the games will be played in, later this summer.
The teams who will face-off in the Qualifying Round are as followed :
What does this mean for the Montreal Canadiens?
If the playoffs were to be in the normal 16-team format, the Canadiens would have missed out, sitting 10 points out of the last Wild Card spot in the East. However, with the 24-team format, the “Tricolore” are now in the final spot in the Eastern Conference and will face Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Canadiens traded winger Ilya Kovalchuk at the trade deadline in late February, with the hopes of landing a better chance a winning a lottery pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. With that said, the Canadiens still have star goaltender Carey Price as well as winger Thomas Tatar, who was having a career year before the season abruptly ended.
The NHL has yet to announce the date for the start of the Qualifying round, but listeners can tune in to CHIP 101.9 when the Montreal Canadiens will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, as it was before the suspension of the season.