The National Hockey League says its regular season is over—but the playoffs could still happen. The league has released a "Return to Play" plan that includes 24 of its 31 teams in playoffs that will take place in two "hub cities," one for the Eastern Conference and one for the Western Conference. The NHL says qualifying will be determined by a team's points on March 12, when the season was suspended because of the pandemic. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says play could resume in late July, although much remains to be determined, including the location of the hub cities and whether play will be allowed at all, the AP reports.
"Obviously these are extraordinary and unprecedented times," Bettman said, per the CBC. "Any plan for the resumption of play, by definition, cannot be perfect," he said, but by expanding the playoff pool to 24 teams from the usual 16, the league believes the plan includes all teams that had a chance of qualifying. He added: "This plan will produce a worthy Stanley Cup champion who will have run the post-season gauntlet that is unique to the NHL." The league said Monday that as part of its "Phase 2" step toward resuming play, players and personnel returning to their club's city would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days and be tested for the coronavirus, reports NBC Sports. (Read more NHL stories.)