Report: NHL executive board to approve 24-team proposal

The executive board of the NHL Players’ Association is expected to approve a playoff format featuring 24 teams in a conference-based setup, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported on Friday.

McKenzie reported that despite Thursday’s conference call getting “a little heated at times,” the proposal is expected to have at least 18 of the possible 31 votes needed to be approved.

“If that is indeed the case, and I believe team by team balloting has concluded or will conclude shortly, it should pave the way for the NHL and NHLPA to perhaps formally announce the RTP (return to play) format in the coming days,” McKenzie tweeted.

A timetable for action to restart is unlikely to be part of the eventual formal announcement, per the report.

Under the plan, byes into the second round would go to the top four seeds in each conference based on points percentage as of March 12, when the NHL paused the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Based on that, 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. Those teams would play in a three-game tournament to stay sharp, SportsNet reported.

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

The rest of the bracketed playoff format would have the 5 vs. 12 winner playing the fourth seed, the 6 vs. 11 winner playing the three seed, the 7 vs. 10 winner playing the two seed and the 8 vs. 9 winner playing the one seed in best-of-seven series, according to the report. All remaining series would be best-of-seven, too.

Multiple media outlets have reported that hub cities would be utilized if the plan is approved and that fans would not be allowed in the arenas.