Let’s be frank — it was a given that concessions were going to have to be made when the NHL and NHLPA finally sat down to hammer out the details for the return of the 2019-20 season.
Traditionalists scoffed at the idea of the Stanley Cup Playoff field expanding beyond the regular allotment of 16 clubs, while a majority of players balked at the possibility of having to spend months away from families in a mandated quarantine.
For many, like Brad Marchand, diving right into playoff matchups — even with an extended training camp put in place — could be a recipe for disaster when it comes to potential injury and lackluster play.
But, at the end of the day, an augmented form of the NHL hockey we know and love is better than no hockey at all in 2020. And with the stakes all the same with Lord Stanley’s Cup up for grabs, one should expect plenty of competitive bouts this summer.
All parties involved took a major step forward Friday in ensuring the return of hockey this summer, as the NHLPA’s Executive Board authorized additional negotiations regarding the league’s proposed 24-team tournament that would eventually crown a new Stanley Cup champion.
Here is the full statement from the NHLPA:
"The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup. Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play."
The Executive Board, composed of representatives from all 31 NHL clubs, approved these additional discussions after a vote that was reportedly contentious — with both the Lightning and Hurricanes reportedly voting against such a format and additional questions being asked about details beyond just the proposal.
Even though they voted in favor of the new format, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if the Bruins had a few dissenting opinions about said proposal, even if the priority for all remains getting out to the ice in a timely (and safe) fashion.
While there are plenty of details that still need to be ironed out, here are the baseline details of this 24-team format.