NHLPA board voting on playoff format to return

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				Ryan Strome of the Rangers checks the Islanders Johnny Boychuk.			Paul J. Bereswill

Approving a format for the NHL's contemplated return to the ice this summer should have been relatively easy and the least of the league's and NHLPA's problems. According to LeBrun, the results should be available by Friday evening.

Bettman said that access to tests will remain a key issue in resuming the National Hockey League season.

"I feel like if you're doing the 24-team thing, it basically gives a team a chance that had no chance of making it, which if you play 82 there's maybe 6, 8% chance that the team in 12th place (in the conference) makes it", Carolina player representative Jordan Martinook said Wednesday, more than 24 hours before the executive board meeting.

Letang also said that the safety of everyone involved remains the most important factor of any plan.

The 24-team playoff format would see 12 clubs from both the Eastern and Western Conference battle for the Cup in a tournament that could stretch deep into the fall or early winter.

Those play-in series would determine which teams advance to a traditional 16-team Stanley Cup Playoff bracket, which would feature seven-game series.

The NHL playoffs usually involve eight teams from each conference, with the victor having to navigate four best-of-seven series following a full schedule.

But the format is a substantial piece of the return to play puzzle.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Montreal Canadiens, who otherwise would not have qualified for the playoffs.

"I don't think there's going to be a ideal scenario where everyone's super excited about", Nashville's Ryan Johansen said earlier Thursday.

Earlier this week, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the season could resume with games being played in centralized locations.

Players have been at odds with the league over return, with some questioning what the impact will be on the sport.

It's nearly certain teams will be clustered in hub cities across North America, with games being played in empty arenas. The following step would then likely be a three-week training camp before games resume.

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