On May 26, commissioner Gary Bettman announced the steps the league and the NHL Players’ Association agreed upon to move forward, including the official ending of the 2019-20 season, a 24-team return-to-play format and how the draft lottery will look.
Translation? There’s still a lot to be ironed out — and, it needs to be noted, nothing is guaranteed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — but one thing appears to be more and more likely: a 2020 Stanley Cup champion will be crowned.
“I want to make clear that the health and safety of our players, coaches, essential support staff, our communities are paramount,” Bettman said during the reveal of the format on Tuesday. “While nothing is without risk, ensuring health and safety has been central to all of our planning so far and will remain so. Let me assure you that the reason we are doing this is because our fans are telling us in overwhelming numbers that they want us to complete the season, if at all possible, and our players and our teams are clear that they want to play and bring the season to its rightful conclusion.”
When it’ll happen is still in flux because of such things as location, coronavirus testing and mandatory 14-day quarantines to anyone entering Canada.