Good news for NHL fans. The NHL has announced its Return to Play Plan to finish out the 2019-2020 season, and one of the hub cities could be Minneapolis.

24 of the 31 NHL teams will return to finish the 2019-2020 season. The seven teams not included were at the bottom of the standings in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. In the Eastern Conference, Buffalo, Detroit, Ottawa, and New Jersey will not participate in the relaunch. Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose will be left out on the Western Conference side.

The 24 teams that will continue play will do so at two "hub cities." Those cities will be announced at a later date, but will be selected from this list according to the league:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Edmonton, AB
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Toronto, ON
  • Vancouver, BC

Cities won't be picked until the NHL completes its phases. Currently, the league is transitioning to Phase 2. That includes getting teams back into home facilities for small group training, and on and off-ice training. The NHL will attempt to move to Phase 3 no earlier than the middle of July. Phase 3 will involve teams starting a formal training camp. Once things are settled, Phase 4 will then start which will see the teams start to play games. Phase 4 does not currently have a timeline as to when it could begin.

Once Phase 4 is cleared, the NHL teams will utilize a competitive format:

  • Round Robin: The top 4 teams play for First Round seeding (regular-season overtime rules in effect)
  • Qualifying Round: The remaining 8 teams play best-of-5 series to advance to the First Round (playoff overtime rules in effect)
  • First Round and Second Round: Format (seeding vs. bracket) and series lengths to be determined
  • Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final: Best-of-7 series

Eastern Conference:

City 1 – Round Robin for Seeding in First Round

  1. Boston Bruins
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning
  3. Washington Capitals
  4. Philadelphia Flyers

City 1 – Best-of-5 Qualifying Round

  • #5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #12 Montreal Canadiens
  • #6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. #11 New York Rangers
  • #7 New York Islanders vs. #10 Florida Panthers
  • #8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. #9 Columbus Blue Jackets

Western Conference

City 2 – Round Robin for Seeding in First Round

  1. St. Louis Blues
  2. Colorado Avalanche
  3. Vegas Golden Knights
  4. Dallas Stars

City 2 – Best-of-5 Qualifying Round

  • #5 Edmonton Oilers vs. #12 Chicago Blackhawks
  • #6 Nashville Predators vs. #11 Arizona Coyotes
  • #7 Vancouver Canucks vs. #10 Minnesota Wild
  • #8 Calgary Flames vs. #9 Winnipeg Jets

The NHL Board of Governors and the NHL Players Association have agreed on the Return to Play Plan that has been outlined. To see the entire document, along with details on the 2020 NHL Draft process, click here.

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