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NHL wants to complete season, and commissioner points to fans' 'emotional investment' in it

Sam Carchidi, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Hockey

PHILADELPHIA -- A 24-team NHL tournament -- play-in games would be followed by the 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs -- could become a reality this summer.

The NHL suspended its season March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak, but the league's board of governors had a conference call Monday afternoon and discussed several topics. Among them: what it would take to resume play and the format that would be used.

The NHL's Return to Play Committee, composed of league executives and some members of the Players Association, have floated an idea in which 24 of the 31 teams would be alive if the season resumed. It would include the top 12 teams in each conference based on winning percentage. The Flyers have the fourth-best percentage (. 645) in the Eastern Conference.

Several formats are being discussed, but nothing has been finalized.

"Nothing to report," said one person who was on the governors' call. "Hopefully, we will all know something soon."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, speaking Monday at a sports business conference held virtually, said the league was looking at eight or nine places that could accommodate a dozen or so teams at one location. Multiple games would be played at the locations each day.

 

The NHL has said two to four locations would host the games, and they would be played in NHL arenas in cities that are not coronavirus hot spots.

Bettman said there is "still a great deal of uncertainty" as to when the season would restart. Some of the uncertainty revolves around quarantine issues.

Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, said Monday that if one or two players from a team tested positive for the coronavirus, it "wouldn't necessarily require a team quarantine."

"That continues to be the medical advice that both we and the Players Association (separately) are receiving," Daly said in an email.

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