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NHL, NHLPA making progress on plan for 24-team playoff format, report says

NHL, NHLPA making progress on plan for 24-team playoff format, report says

A plan for the league to still host a postseason this year is beginning to take shape

The NHL and NHLPA have made progress in discussions on a 24-team playoff format when and if play resumes, which could involve some games before a potential postseason begins, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. The modified postseason will take shape only if the league is able to resume its season. The NHL's 2019-2020 season was brought to a halt in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was previously reported that the league was focused on skipping the final games remaining of the regular season and going straight to the playoffs. At the time of the regular season suspension, there were 189 regular season games remaining in the NHL's schedule, with the final day of the season scheduled for April 4. The NHL playoffs were set to start on April 8.

Here's more from LeBrun regarding the proposed 24-team playoff format, with 12 teams from each conference:

I'm told the proposed 24-team format doesn't go straight to the playoffs but involves games in some form before-hand. That would be something the players would have pushed for. Again, let me stress that both sides on the committee as of Sunday morning still had work to do on the format so it may yet change again.

But there's a clear sense that both sides are closer on what a season resumption may look like.

Once the Return to Play committee finally agrees to a format (assuming it eventually does), the NHLPA's executive board (31 player reps) would need to vote on it for approval.

LeBrun does not provide details regarding the purpose of additional games before beginning the playoffs, but the games could serve two purposes; as warmups for players to get back to hockey and games to finalize the standings for the playoffs. The details are still unclear.

The NHL has a Board of Governors call on Monday at 3 p.m. ET. An announcement regarding a decision on the NHL Draft, which was initially scheduled to be held on June 26-27, may take place this week, LeBrun reports

The league has reportedly been targeting a late June/early July window for when it can resume competitive dates, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman saying they would need at least three weeks of training camp before that restart. That timeline is contingent on coronavirus trends continuing in a positive direction.

Last month, the league had reportedly planned to move to Phase 2 — when the self-isolation of players is lifted and team facilities are allowed to re-open — in the mid-to-late portion of May. According to this recent report, the NHL and NHLPA still have yet to nail down the final timeline for beginning Phase 2.

The league has been shut down since it suspended the regular season on March 12.

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