The more the merrier, right? It appears a return to hockey is getting closer.
The NHLPA announced Friday night that it has agreed on the principle of a 24-team format in hopes of resuming the NHL season and eventually awarding the Stanley Cup.
As for the exact specifics of how the 24-team format will be held, there has been no announcement from the league. Those details could be ironed out over the weekend and into next week.
Here is the statement Friday night from the NHLPA:
The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup. Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.
On March 12, the NHL was forced to suspend the 2019-20 season because of the coronavirus outbreak. As the hiatus prolonged, it became inevitable that the league would have to forgo the remainder of the regular season. A 24-team tournament makes the decision easier, alleviating the controversy of clubs that were on the playoff bubble with double-digit games left on their regular-season slate when the pause occurred.
There are still many steps to go, though, in regards to finalizing the format, according to multiple reports.
To recap: the NHLPA has agreed to the format itself even though there are other important issues and elements to negotiate. The NHL now will go through its own process and I would expect some form of announcement within the next few days.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 23, 2020
Two interesting notes on NHLPA's approval of the 24-team format if 2019-20 season is restarted, via source:— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 23, 2020
- NHL wants bracketed tournament. Many in NHLPA favor reseeding teams. A point of further negotiation.
- Round robin for top 4 teams in each conf. Seeing *could* change.
Vast majority of the NHLPA executive board members (29-2) agreed on the return to play format. Now you have to expect the league will make an announcement on the format sometime next week.— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) May 23, 2020
Here's what we know so far on the potential format from the Flyers' perspective (see story).