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24-Team Playoff Format Approved by NHLPA

The NHLPA approved the league’s plan for the 24-team playoff format. It was thought at first that some sources predicted that there would be six teams per division that would play in a playoff tournament style. While the tournament-style format remains true, the style of format is different. Here is a break down the newly approved 24-team playoff format.

NHL ice rink
The NHL isn’t set on cancelling this season and wants to award a Stanley Cup champion. Image courtesy: Brave Stick Hockey

24-Team Playoff Format Outlook

Instead of having six teams per division play each other, the seeding is going to be conference based and by points percentage. The top four teams in both conferences would have bye weeks in the first round. The remaining eight teams in each conference would be seeded. The matchups under this new format will look like this:

  • No. 5 seed vs. No. 12 seed (winner plays No.4 seed)
  • No. 6 vs. No. 11 (winner plays No. 3 seed)
  • No. 7 vs. No. 10 (winner plays No. 2 seed)
  • No. 8 vs. No. 9 (winner plays No. 1 seed)

Teams seeded 5-12 will play in a best-of-five play-in series as opposed to a best-of-three play-in series. The top four teams will play in a three game tournament to stay conditioned. Who plays who is still to be determined. This also allows these four teams to be reseeded by the time it comes to the playoffs. However, some players pushed for a reseeding of teams after the first round. This will be a point-in-focus for future negotiations. At the end of this format, the play-in series should determine which teams advance to the traditional 16-team Stanley Cup playoff bracket. However, some players pushed for a reseeding of teams after the first round. This will be a point-in-focus for future negotiations.

The Next Step

The NHL has to sign off of the newly approved NHLA format. The NHL-NHLPA joint announcement of the format could come within the next few days. The NHL should soon make announcements on the NHL draft lottery and the draft itself. The league still has to figure out the logistics of getting players tested for COVID-19 and where the games will be played. One thing is for sure: fans will not be permitted to watch these games live.

Though the NHLPA has approved the format, it expresses some doubt about an expanded playoff format. Nashville Predators forward Matt Duchene warned that there could be too much gimmickry in the playoff format in an interview for Sportsnet 590. “I believe let’s keep it as traditional as possible. I’d love to see us jump to a 16-team playoff,” Duchene said. “You don’t want to have a ‘COVID Cup,’ and I’m worried that if we force this thing and try and it’s a little gimmicky and it’s not quite right, whoever wins the Cup is gonna have people try to take it away from them for their whole lives, and guys don’t deserve that.”

To check out how the new 24-team playoff format that was approved by the NHLPA click here.

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