Per multiple reports from hockey’s various insiders, the National Hockey League and the players’ association has reached an agreement on what form the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs will take whenever they begin.
NHL/NHLPA have put finishing touches on format agreement announced last week. Among the open issues resolved:
_ both sides have agreed that it will be best-of-7 in all four playoff rounds (best of 5 in play-in round)
– Teams will be re-seeded after each round (not bracketed)
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 4, 2020
So here’s the deal:
- The top four teams in each conference will play a round robin to determine seeds 1 to 4. Regular season points percentage will be used as tiebreakers.
- The remaining eight teams will be paired up – 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10 and 8 vs. 9 – with the winners advancing.
- In each round, the top seed will face the lowest surviving seed (and so on) rather than sticking with a specific fixed bracket.
- The play-in round is best-of-five, the remaining rounds (per usual) are best-of-seven.
- To win a Stanley Cup, a top four seed would need to win 16 games while a play-in team would need to win 19.
The "integrity" of the playoffs was prioritized with this decision. It was important to the players. But the entire playoff tournament could last 68 days, which might pose challenges if a second wave of coronavirus hits in the fall.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 4, 2020
On a conference call with local media, Calgary Flames NHLPA representative Mikael Backlund commented on the playoff format:
I think it’s a hard situation with the league and the PA to make everyone happy, so I think they’ve done a good job… I feel like it’s harder to make everyone happy and I still feel this is the best scenario for the league and the players and to get as many teams involved. I feel it’s really only two teams that get a free card here, the rest of the teams were in the race, so it would’ve been harder to just go 16 teams when there was probably 22 teams that had a chance to make it. And I think the five game start is probably a good idea, too. It could go fast if you struggle early, three games and you could be over, but it’s the same for all the teams so I think it’s a good format.
Backlund noted that since been in Sweden, alternate NHLPA representative Matthew Tkachuk – along with Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic – have been taking the lead on the Return to Play discussions for the club.