Players agree to move forward with NHL's 24-team return-to-play proposal

CALGARY, AB - MARCH 6: Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames heads out on to the ice for warm up against the Arizona Coyotes at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 6, 2020 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - MARCH 6: Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames heads out on to the ice for warm up against the Arizona Coyotes at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 6, 2020 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHLPA executive committee turned over a vote in favour of the league’s proposed 24-team playoff format.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie was first to report that the NHLPA’s executive board would agree to the basic framework of the league’s plans to conclude the 2019-20 season, and hours later the NHLPA confirmed on Twitter that it will move forward with negotiations based on the 24-team format.

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As the NHLPA mentions, many details still need to be worked out before the two sides move forward with plans, and Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reports that the NHL must complete its “process” now that it has received the 31 ballots from the team representatives.

The proposal will see 12 teams from each conference resume play this season. The top four seeds from each conference will avoid a play-in round while the remaining eight teams will engage in best-of-five series that will blur the division lines in order to complete the customary 16-team bracket for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here’s how the 24 teams are expected to enter a resumed season:

Eastern Conference
Pittsburgh Penguins (5) vs. Montreal Canadiens (12)
Carolina Hurricanes (6) vs. New York Rangers (11)
New York Islanders (7) vs. Florida Panthers (10)
Toronto Maple Leafs (8) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (9)

Top seeds: Boston (1), Tampa Bay (2), Washington (3), Philadelphia (4)

Western Conference
Edmonton Oilers (5) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (12)
Nashville Predators (6) vs. Arizona Coyotes (11)
Vancouver Canucks (7) vs. Minnesota Wild (10)
Calgary Flames (8) vs. Winnipeg Jets (9)

Top seeds: St. Louis (1), Colorado (2), Vegas (3), Dallas (4)

As of now, there are no known target dates for a return, nor any decisions on which cities will host games if the NHL can indeed resume its campaign.

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