With everything going on in the world right now, it should come as no surprise to learn that the sporting world is having to make some adjustments to their regular schedule of play. The NFL has postponed much of their season and extended their virtual offseason, the NBA is struggling to come to terms with the fact that they won’t be able to invite fans into their stadiums, and even the NHL is wondering what’s going to happen next. The season was put on hold in mid-March, and they still haven’t been able to press the play button. When they do, though, we may be seeing a 24-team NHL playoff.
No decisions made
It’s important to note that no big decisions have been made yet. The NHL is still in talks to determine the best way to get the season back up and running, and this has been a divisive dialog between some of the top dogs in the league. However, as the conversation goes back and forth, it’s been suggested that a 24-team playoff format is the only way to ensure that things can run as normally as they possibly can in this current climate.
The host cities
The idea behind this 24-team playoff format is that it first involves four main host cities. These would become the main hubs of the league as a whole and would be the base for division-based playoff tournaments as the season progresses. While no decisions have been made on which cities will cut the mustard, the word on the street is that they will be spread across both the United States and Canada. Once these host cities are decided, each of the four NHL divisions will be assigned one of those hubs, and the top six teams play it out to determine who would qualify for the postseason. Throughout the whole process, these teams will report to the hub city.
The state of play
When everything has been assigned, the game of play will continue as follows:
- Each division’s number one and number two seeds will play best-of-three against each other to decide the overall division winner.
- Each division’s number three seed and number six seed will play, while number four and number five will play a best-of-three to win the right to keep playing.
- This will create four remaining playoff qualifiers from each division, creating 16 playoff teams in total.
It’s believed that this structure will work best to ensure that the game can continue as normal, but so far, no moves have been made to bring this to light. Of course, while fans of the league hoped that things would have been back to normal by now, it seems as though we are all going to have to accept that these possible changes could become the “new normal.”
Big changes may be coming to this league, but we have no doubt about the fact that the NHL will be able to survive such changes. After all, we’ll always support our league.