Vancouver on hub city short list as National Hockey League unveils playoff format

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Here are the key points of Bettman's address dubbed the Return To Play Plan.

Daly said Wednesday that while he wants to "make sure that our Canadian cities and our Canadian clubs are well-represented", Canada's current federally-mandated 14-day quarantine period for all incoming travellers presents a significant challenge and could hinder the league's ability to play games north of the border when the league resumes.

Bettman confirmed the playoffs will proceed in two hub cities, one each playing host to the Eastern and Western Conference teams, with games staged for TV cameras but no fans in the stands.

Among the candidates are Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

The League, which has been paused since March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, will restart with two hub cities each hosting 12 teams from one conference. He said the US acting director of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, had recently "signed an order that made professional athletes essential", to enable them to travel into the country.

Asked whether officials might consider making an exception for the league, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said they would not do anything that increases the risk of transmitting the virus. Players would also follow strict guidelines to monitor their own symptoms throughout Phase 2, in addition to a number of other safety guidelines outlined here. The exact timeline will depend on COVID-19 conditions. Formal training camps could begin in the first half of July, with a puck drop anticipated perhaps three weeks after that.

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The NHL regular season is officially over, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday, and the top 12 teams in each division will make the playoffs.

"Today's announcement by the NHL provides the Ottawa Senators with clarity and allows us to set our sights firmly on the NHL Entry Draft, one that we believe will be the most transformational in our Club's history".

Under the 24-team plan, Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia would compete for the No. 1 slot in the East in a round-robin tournament, while defending Cup champion St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas would do the same out West.

That means that if the NHL Draft Lottery goes to Phase 2, any of the teams that lose their best-of-five qualifying round could receive a top-three pick. In essence, the teams that fail to advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs will each have a three percent chance to win the No. 1 draft selection. No. 12 Montreal, No. 6 Carolina vs. "I think Canadians are going to be happy they see the National Hockey League come back, but we want to make sure we do it in the interest of the players, and the communities that they operate in", he says.

Bettman said, "Although we are anxious to get back on the ice, we will not do anything until we are assured by medical professionals and the relevant government authorities that it is safe and prudent to do so".

"If what we're doing helps people feel a little more normal again and helps bring us back together - you know, it's one of the things that we think sports does, it brings people together, it helps them heal from hard times - but the money is not the ... driver here".

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