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Latest 24 Team Format Offers Various Playoff Rankings
By Michael Walters
Since the National Hockey League(NHL) was put on hold back in March, Commissioner Gary Bettman, various league officials, and the NHLPA have worked to bring hockey back with the Return-To-Play Committee. The goal has remained the same, conclude the 2019-20 NHL season instead of having it canceled according to Bettman.
The committee has met on a weekly basis and discussed various formats that include a 16, 20, or 24 team scenario. The 16 team scenario is what the league is operating with and has done so for many seasons now. In the 20 team scenario, the top 10 teams would be selected from each conference. The bottom four teams would play each other, 7 vs 10 and 8 vs 9. The two winners would then be added with the top 6. The 20 team scenario would basically end up being 16 teams eventually with an added “play-in” round.
The 24 team scenario is the leading proposal on the table. The original version was to have six teams from each division but that has now shifted to the top 12 teams in each conference instead. According to TSN/The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun the top four teams in each conference would play in a round-robin against each other. The bottom eight teams would be paired up and each square off in a best-of-five “play-in” series. The 5th ranked team would play the 12th ranked, the 6th would play 11th, and so on.
The purpose of the round-robin would be for determining the playoff ranking for the top four teams in each conference. The four teams that win the “play-in” series from the bottom eight teams would then advance to the usual 16-team playoff format. The initial 24 teams would be still be ranked based on their points percentage during the season.
This latest 24 team format would be exciting for a few reasons. The top four teams would not be locked in their spots. They would have to play to see how they are ranked in the top four playoff slots. The “play-in” series would also generate more excitement as teams would get to battle for one of the bottom four playoff slots. Overall there would be more games and more chances for the playoff brackets to be shaken up once the dust settles from the round-robin games and “play-in” match-ups.
The NHLPA is currently voting on the latest 24 team proposal. It appears all the votes could be cast by tomorrow night per multiple reports. This latest format could be voted for, but the committee could also vote to continue to tweak it or even continue more discussions according to Pierre LeBrun. No scenario is perfect and there has been plenty of discussion amongst the owners as to what format they would like to see so it’s possible a decision isn’t made immediately.
The locations to finish the season have yet to be determined. Several potential locations include Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Vegas. There have been multiple reports that Vegas would likely be one of the locations.
What format would you like to see? Vote here: TPN Poll
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May 12th, 2020