NHL players' union brass mull return to play plans

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With the NHL season paused on March 12 due to the global COVID-19 outbreak, the New York Islanders home rink, Nassau Coliseum, has been closed to events (AFP Photo/BRUCE BENNETT)

Los Angeles (AFP) - The National Hockey League's union brass are expected to give the green light to a 24-team playoff format that would crown the Stanley Cup champion, TSN.ca reported on Friday night.

The Canadian sports broadcaster said the conference-based proposal is expected to get at least 18 of the possible 31 votes needed for it to pass.

Voting on the plan -- to play behind closed doors and in hub cities -- was expected to take place on Friday.

Under the proposed schedule, the top four seeds in each conference would receive byes into the second round.

The seeds would be determined by the number of points each team had on March 12, when the NHL shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The top four seeds in the Eastern Conference would be the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.

The top four Western Conference teams would be the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars.

The other 16 teams would play in a best-of-five first round.

The rest of the bracketed playoff format would have the five vs. 12 winner playing the fourth seed, the six vs. 11 winner playing the three seed, the seven vs. 10 winner playing the two seed and the eight vs. nine winner playing the one seed in best-of-seven series, according to the report.

All remaining series would be best-of-seven.