NHL Announces Plans to Resume Play, Move Forward with Stanley Cup Playoff This Summer

Posted on: May 26, 2020, 10:50h. 

Last updated on: May 27, 2020, 08:50h.

It wasn’t quite Wayne and Garth saying “Game On!” But the National Hockey League announced on Tuesday how it plans to move forward with the conclusion of the 2019-20 season and award the Stanley Cup.

NHL Stanley Cup
David Krejci of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in a game between the teams back in January. The two NHL squads are among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and the league, which stopped play on March 11 because of the coronavirus, announced Tuesday plans to start the playoffs this summer. (Image: Charles Krupa/AP)

As it stands now, the top 12 teams from each conference will meet to resume play later this summer, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday. Each conference will play games in a to-be-determined hub city.

The remaining regular-season games have been abandoned.

Let me assure you that the reason we are doing this is because our fans are telling us in overwhelming numbers that they want us to complete the season if at all possible, and our players and our teams are clear that they want to play and bring the season to its rightful conclusion,” Bettman said in a videoconference Tuesday afternoon.

The top four teams in each conference will play each other in a three-game round-robin to determine the top seeds, and the remaining eight teams will square off in four best-of-five-game series to determine the remaining four teams in each conference.

The first- and second-round series will then be played in the hubs. The lengths of those series will be determined later. The Conference Finals and Stanley Cup final will each be best-of-seven and those locations have yet to be determined.

Though the announcement was made on Tuesday, the league is not yet ready to allow teams to start practicing. League officials anticipate allowing teams to return to team locations for voluntary training sessions in small groups in early June, according to a release. About a month later, formal training camps may begin.

Matchups Set, 10 Cities Vying for Hubs

No official date has been given for when the official play may resume.

The NHL said it will consider 10 cities to serve as hubs. They are: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver. There is no time frame for when the two hubs will be selected. But the league will base its decision on COVID-19 conditions, testing ability, and government regulations.

Teams will stay in secure hotels and have dedicated transportation to arenas and practice rinks. While it’s not known yet how many players may be on the rosters, the NHL will cap teams to 50 people, with a “small number” of support staff.

The Eastern Conference teams that will play to determine the top four seeds are the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers. The Eastern Conference play-in series will feature the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Montreal Canadiens; the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the New York Rangers; the New York Islanders vs. the Florida Panthers; and the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In the Western Conference, the defending Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues will face the Colorado Avalanche, the Vegas Golden Knights, and the Dallas Stars to set the top four seeds. The remain playoff teams will be decided by the following series: Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks; Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes; Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild; and the Calgary Flames vs. the Winnipeg Jets.

Boston, Tampa, Vegas Cup Favorites

Since the NHL ended the regular season early – there were 189 games remaining between the 31 teams before the league suspended play on March 11 – it likely will mean season prop bets, such as total points for teams, will be canceled and wagers refunded. Check with your sportsbook to determine their policies.

The Westgate SuperBook announced it would cancel bets on points and win totals, as well as bets on division winners. Even yes/no playoff prop bets will be canceled because those bets were based on an 82-game regular season.

The SuperBook has listed odds for the Stanley Cup, with the Lightning, Bruins, and Golden Knights co-favorites at +600. The Avalanche follow at +800, with the Blues and Capitals at +1000.

FanDuel lists the Bruins and Lightning at +600, with the Avalanche at +750, the Golden Knights at +850, the Capitals at +900, and the Blues at +1000.

Over at Caesars, Boston, Vegas, and Tampa Bay all have +600 odds, while oddsmakers there list Colorado at +800, St. Louis at +900, and Washington at +1100.