NHLPA agrees to further negotiations with National Hockey League on return-to-play plan

NHLPA approves 24-team playoff effectively ending Red Wings season. Brad Galli has more

With 71 points in 71 games (.500), the Canadiens edge out Buffalo, which had 68 points in 69 games (.493) and would extend the league's longest active playoff drought to a ninth consecutive season.

The NHLPA's executive board has authorized more talks with the NHL on a 24-team playoff format, the union said in a statement Friday night.

More hard, complex issues lay ahead, and there may be details still to be hammered out, such as bracketing versus reseeding, but the players association's executive board comprised of 31 team player reps did authorize the union to move forward and negotiate outstanding issues with the understanding that the league would reopen with an expanded 24-team tournament if the parties are able to surmount massive obstacles to stage a summer comeback following the March 12 pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And while the belief has nearly always been that the NHLPA would vote to continue, multiple reports noted that the call on Thursday night was at times contentious and even heated, as not everybody has been on board with the NHL's plans to resume, the 24-team format, and the financial particulars of a potential return.

The Players Association and the league must still hash out timing, location, health and safety protocols, and more. From there, traditional best-of-seven series would follow through the Stanley Cup Final. Earlier this week, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league was looking at eight or nine cities to be hubs for games, and choosing two or four.

The postseason structure in question would have the top four teams in each conference receiving byes but playing one another in a round-robin tournament before facing the winners of the best-of-five matchups between the next-best 16 clubs. Las Vegas, with its abundance of hotels, is considered a strong candidate to be a hub city.

The Post has been told by several parties familiar with the call that a significant faction of players believe the format does not sufficiently reward clubs for their success before the National Hockey League season was put on pause. That's to be determined, but early July seems to be the league's goal.

Western Conference Edmonton Oilers (5) vs.

In the East, the play-in series would have: No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 12 Montreal, No. 7 N.Y. Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida, and No. 6 Carolina vs.



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