NHL games could resume in July; St. Louis not among possible host cities

See the full details of the NHL's return to play plan here.

Sam Masterson
May 26, 2020 - 3:56 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The National Hockey League announced some of its plans for the return of hockey in 2020. 

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement in a Tuesday afternoon press conference. He says there will be no more 2020 regular season games and the league plans to immediately begin the Stanley Cup Playoffs when games return.

There are four phases to the return to play plan: 

Phase 1 - It began on March 12 with teams having been instructed to self-isolate as much as possible.

Phase 2 – In early June, it is expected that teams will be permitted to return to home facilities fo r small group, voluntary, and on- and off-ice training.

Phase 3 – Not earlier than first half of July, formal training camps will begin after guidance from medical and civil authorities.

Phase 4 – 24 teams in 2 "hub" cities will compete in Seeding Round Robins, a Qualifying Round and Conference-based Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bettman says that will come no sooner than the second half of July and not until national health officials give approval.

Although the St. Louis Blues are currently the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference, the city will not be hosting any games. Only two cities will host games – one for Western Conference teams and another for Eastern Conference. The list of possible hub cities includes Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburg, Toronto and Vancouver. 

The Blues celebrated the news on social media, saying they've officially "clinched" a 2020 playoff spot. 

Bettman says playoff games in the two host cities won't begin until least the second half of July, but there's hope for team training camps to begin as early as July 1. 

According to the plan, the Blues first game action will be to participate in a four-team round-robin tournament to determine the top four seeds in the Western Conference. They will face the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars. Then, they'll be matched with another team for the start of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The Series length of the First and Second Round series are still to be determined, but the NHL says the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final will be best-of-seven series. 

You can see the full details of the NHL's return to play plan, here: 

NHL's 2020 Return to Play by EntercomSTL on Scribd

Related: Memo: NHL Will Only Allow 6 Players Maximum in First Return to Practices

Progress was made in the return to NHL action after the league proposed a 24-team playoff format that was approved by the NHLPA board on Friday. The plan would give the top four teams in each conference a first-round bye, which would include the currently top-seeded St. Louis Blues. Then the remaining Nos. 5 through 12 seeded teams would participate in a round of best-of-five play-in series. Those play-in series would determine which teams advance to a traditional 16-team Stanley Cup playoff bracket, which would have seven-game series.

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