NHLPA Approves Going Forward with 24-Team Playoff Talks

Tanya Simon
May 23, 2020

The NHL and the NHLPA are discussing a 24-team, conference-based playoff format for a potential restart to the 2019-20 season this summer, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The NHLPA began voting on the plan Thursday.

The Penguins' NHLPA representative, Kris Letang, told Elliotte Friedman on Friday that he voted in favor of the proposed format.

Apart from continuing discussions on the 24-team format, plenty of other hurdles remain before the games will be allowed to resume, including receiving the go-ahead from government and health officials, timing, locations, testing procedures and ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

"I just want to play, and I can do whatever format they decide", he said.

The East's best-of-five series would see Pittsburgh versus Montreal, Carolina versus the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders versus Florida, and Toronto versus Columbus.

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More hard, complex issues lay ahead, and there may be details still to be hammered out, such as bracketing versus reseeding, but the players association's executive board comprised of 31 team player reps did authorize the union to move forward and negotiate outstanding issues with the understanding that the league would reopen with an expanded 24-team tournament if the parties are able to surmount massive obstacles to stage a summer comeback following the March 12 pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every series after the first round would be best-of-seven.

"I don't think there's going to be a flawless scenario where everyone's super excited about", Nashville's Ryan Johansen said earlier Thursday.

Like the National Basketball Association, the NHL would likely utilize no more than two hub cities and four venues for its restart.

Players have been at odds with the league over return, with some questioning what the impact will be on the sport. The following step would then likely be a three-week training camp before games resume. "There's been some different talks and things like that and talking about a bunch of different things and trying to sort through some different issues".

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