NHL approves the return to play!

Welp ladies and gentleman, hockey is on it’s way back! On Tuesday, the NHL announced that an approved plan with 24 teams in competition for the Stanley Cup will be underway shortly. After pausing the season on March 12 due to COVID-19, hockey will finally be back.

They will be cutting the remaining 189 games out of the season, and instead opting to move to a 24 team playoff format. There will be a qualifying round and seeding round robin held at two hub cities for the first part of the plan. The possibly hub cities are Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.

Yes, you read that right, PITTSBURGH IS IN THE RUNNING. Imagine how cool that will be, having 12 NHL teams in Pittsburgh at one time for a sort of mini tournament. That’d be sick! Anyways, back to the plan.

This plan will have hockey being played throughout the summer and into early fall, leading to a question that hasn’t been addressed yet; what about next season? The top 4 teams competing in the round robin and the qualifying round matchups are below:

Our hometown Penguins will be taking on the Montreal Canadiens who basically made it in on a technicality…lucky them. Unfortunately only 7 teams didn’t make it, those teams being the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks, LA Kings, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings. All those teams do get to participate in the NHL Draft Lottery on June 26 though so that’s kinda cool for them I guess…

The qualifying round will be a best of 5 series between the teams, instead of the usual best of 7 that occurs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s as far as the Return to Play Committee has gotten in deciding length of series and such.

Early June is when players are expected to be allowed back to their training facilities with a max of 6 players allowed to train at once. So the players will soon be back to getting into the swing of things. Unfortunately, there won’t be any fans allowed to watch in the arena, but things may change in the upcoming weeks/months!

I believe that’s fine all things considered, BECAUSE HOCKEY IS BACK BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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