NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Monday, May 25 that the league’s regular season is ending to make way for a 24-team playoff. The system will take the top four teams in each conference and play a round-robin tournament for top seeding. The remaining 16 teams will face off in best-of-five play-in series.
“As we seek some return to normalcy, this is an important day for NHL fans,” Bettman said. “Since March 12, we’ve been hopeful and optimistic that by developing all options and alternatives, we could get to this point. I know I join sports fans everywhere when I say we cannot wait for the players to hit the ice again.”
The NHL Players’ Association has not agreed to the complete plan, but did give their approval to the format. The league and players do not know if the opening round teams will reseed for the second round. The two sides are also deciding if they want the first two rounds after the play-in round to be best of five or seven series.
How The NHL Will Handle Security And Testing
Two cities, where players and staff will live in secure locations with COVID-19 testing on-site, will host all games. The NHL is vetting ten cities for the final locations to see if they can accommodate 12 conference teams. The list of cities includes Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.
The two cities will need hotels, practice facilities, testing facilities and arenas to handle the demand of the playoffs. Although Bettman listed cities in Canada, current 14-day quarantine requirements might push the league to choose two locations in America.
“The interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in and not have to do a strict self-quarantine in a hotel room, we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub city,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “We’re faced with having to find a solution to that. Hopefully we can.”
Any player that tests positive for COVID-19 will sit out until cleared by the league’s medical personnel. The league will return players in a four-phase plan that hopes to start training camp no earlier than July 1.
Colorado Avalanche Will Play In Top 4 Western Conference Round-Robin Tournament
With the Colorado Avalanche holding a top four spot in the Western Conference standings at the end of the regular season, they’ll play St. Louis, Vegas and Dallas in a round-robin style tournament to determine seeding for the second round.
In the round-robin, each team plays three games. The team with the best record will take the top seed in the West. The next three teams’ record will determine their seeding in the short tourney. The best winning percentage between the two or three deadlocked teams will break the remaining ties.
After the Avalanche are seeded, they will play one of eight teams that will face off in the opening round best of five series.
The final two rounds, including the Conference and Stanley Cup Finals, will be the normal best-of-seven series.
By allowing four more teams to enter the playoff picture, the West will add Winnipeg, Minnesota, Arizona and Chicago. A typical season would see the top eight teams in each conference head to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It’s completely different than what the norm is,” Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin said. “I think we all understand how unique this year is and how crazy it’s been. We’ve just kind of got to roll with it a little bit.”
Colorado Avalanche’s Odds To Win The Stanley Cup
With the new format set, Colorado sportsbooks have set odds for the Stanley Cup Championship as they await the players approval to the security and testing portion of the NHL’s plan.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning hold the top spot at +600. Next is the Avalanche at +750. Colorado holds the best odds for a Western Conference team, making them the odds-on favorite to reach the finals.
The odds of the other top four West teams include Vegas at +850, St. Louis at +1000, and Dallas at +1500.
Over at DraftKings Sportsbook, Boston and Tampa Bay are listed as the favorites, but the odds are at +650 for both. The Avalanche are at +750 once again, with Vegas, St. Louis, and Dallas all duplicating their FanDuel odds.
The odds should change after the round-robin tournament, so the Avalanche could lose ground with a poor early showing.