NHLPA authorizes further negotiations with 24-team playoff format

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As the NHLPA mentions, many details still need to be worked out before the two sides move forward with plans, and Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reports that the National Hockey League must complete its "process" now that it has received the 31 ballots from the team representatives.

It wasn't easy at all, but it is done.

The NHL and the NHL Player Association reached an agreement Friday night to move forward on a plan to resume the season, starting with a 24-team playoff.

The NHL Players' Association announced late Friday its executive board has authorized "further negotiations" on a 24-team playoff format as the league bids to resume the 2019-20 season and award the Stanley Cup.

The next step is hammering out the remaining details - including health and safety protocols - for the league to resume play after being on hiatus for the past 10 weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The rest of the bracketed playoff format would have the five vs. 12 winner playing the fourth seed, the six vs. 11 winner playing the three seed, the seven vs. 10 winner playing the two seed and the eight vs. nine winner playing the one seed in best-of-seven series, according to the report. Once approved, the proposal effectively ends the season of the league's bottom seven teams. These players - or proxies - spoke their piece. The top four teams in the Eastern and Western conferences would receive byes but play a round-robin series that could impact first-round seeding.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Montreal Canadiens, who otherwise would not have qualified for the playoffs. That has become all but irrelevant. All remaining series would be best-of-seven, too.

Still, the motion passed overwhelmingly.

Under this scenario, the 11th-seed Rangers would meet sixth-seed Carolina while the seventh-seed Islanders would face 10th-seeded Florida in the play-in round.

In addition to the outstanding issues that must be brokered between the league and the union, there are immigration, visa matters and travel restrictions that must be resolved by government agencies before the NHL can plot its return to the ice.

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