Leading NHL return plans have Rangers in the playoffs

Multiple reports have come out that indicate the NHL is planning a return in July. Although many of the leading insiders claim it is very early and very speculative, it sounds to me that this is becoming more concrete per my league source. The NHL Pause sounds like it will end with a 24 team playoffs played in a handful of NHL buildings, meaning the Rangers are in but MSG is out.

Leading “Neutral” Sites

In an interview on NHL.com, the Commissioner admitted there are plenty of plans but no matter which they select, it will be done with consulting medical experts. Gary Bettman reiterated that the NHL can easily play late into the summer and play a full season in 2020-21 but start much later.

The idea of playing in a non-NHL city, like New Hampshire was put the bed because a small college arena simple does not work logistically. Bettman stated that so far it could be up to 4 NHL cities that are in good shape coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to what those 4 potential sites could be, Frank Seravalli of TSN states Toronto, Pittsburgh, Edmonton, and Dallas are good candidates.

Bettman (credit: Ted S. Warren, AP)

“It’s not something that we can predict right at this moment. But this is part of the contingencies. It doesn’t necessarily have to be by division, although the centralization may be by division. But the particular location could be anywhere that isn’t a hot spot and has what we need both in terms of the arena and having practice facilities, because if you bring in seven or eight clubs to a particular facility and you’re playing lots of games on a regular basis without travel, there does need to be ice for practice.”

Bettman on returning to 4 NHL Arenas via NHL.com

24 Team Playoffs

The more and more you read what is being bandied about from the NHL you start to realize that an expanded playoff is the most likely return scenario. Yes, the top 4 teams from each conference would in essence receive a 1st round bye in a 5 round tournament. Or the bottom 4 teams could play a “wild card” playoff scenario before the traditional 16 team tournament starts. This is still a fluid situation but that means the New York Rangers would be in under this scenario.

Full Gary Bettman Interview