The NHL has organized a plan to return to play with a 24-team Stanley Cup playoff tournament based in two hub cities still to be determined. When Gary Bettman announced the plan, he said the owners and players were still sorting out the series length and how the seeding would work.
On Thursday, we got some clarity, courtesy of The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. The qualifying round will feature series lengths of best-of-5, while the four playoff rounds will feature series lengths of best-of-seven. There will not be a bracket format, but instead teams will be re-seeded after each round. That means the top seed will face the bottom seed each round they remain alive.
The starting date for the tournament remains unclear for the time being. As LeBrun noted, the owners and players are still negotiating over the start of training camp, which cities will be the hubs, and health and safety protocols for camp and the tournament. Bettman said camp wouldn’t begin any earlier than July 1st. That’s four weeks away, so they have some time to figure out how to keep everybody healthy and safe for whenever they are ready to resume play.