NHL rumors: League, NHLPA 'making progress' on 24-team format

Nick Goss
NBC Sports Boston

The 2019-20 NHL season remains on pause, but the league has talked about different scenarios that could unfold if a return to play happens.

One potential scenario, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, involves a 24-team format. 

TSN's Darren Dreger also reported that, under a 24-team scenario, there would two hub cities with each one hosting 12 teams. TSN's Bob McKenzie provided more context to Dreger's report on Monday morning.

Two hub cities is a good number for a few reasons, one being that it would limit travel between all of the teams. 

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Another aspect for the league to figure out if it resumes the season is whether to go straight to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the league doesn't want to jump right into the postseason, two options are playing more regular season games -- most teams have played around 70 of the 82 regular season games originally scheduled -- or having some kind of play-in tournament. According to LeBrun, it seems that the league is thinking of the second scenario.

A play-in tournament would be a lot of fun and give the teams on the playoff bubble a chance to sneak into the playoffs.

The Eastern Conference has five teams in the wild card race. The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets occupy the two spots with 81 points apiece. Three other teams have at least 78 points. The Western Conference has four teams in the wild card chase within at least three points of each other.

It's still unknown if the 2019-20 season will return. It has been paused since mid-March amid the outbreak of COVID-19. However, it its encouraging that the league is looking at some different scenarios if game action does resume. Perhaps we will find out more after Monday afternoon's Board of Governors meeting.

NHL rumors: League, NHLPA 'making progress' on 24-team format originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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