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Bettman: Formal NHL training camps won’t start until July 1 at earliest



Bettman NHL

Let’s give a quick rundown of what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman just said, via a grainy-looking video feed from what looked like his house. He talked about the NHL’s Return to Play initiative.

First of all:

  • NHL players can start migrating back to their home cities by early June and undergo VOLUNTARY on- and off-ice hockey activities in groups of six – with no coaches allowed on the ice with them (that seems really weird to me, but we’re in weird times).
  • Formal training camps cannot start any earlier than July 1. (Bettman didn’t say it, but it is assumed those training camps will last at least two weeks). That means, a revised hockey playoff, 24-team format can’t start any earlier than July 15 at least. Ergo, we’re still a long ways off from having any real hockey to watch.
  • The Avalanche will have a round-robin play-in with the other top three regular-season points percentage winners to establish 1-4 seeding in the playoffs. Regulation overtime and shootout rules will apply to those games.
  • Rounds 1 and 2 might be only a best-of-five format. Rounds 3 and 4 will be best-of-seven, no matter what.
  • There are 11 cities still under consideration to be the two hub cities to host the playoffs (one East, one West). Denver is not among the 11. Chicago, Vegas, Dallas, Vancouver, Edmonton,  Minnesota, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Columbus are your 11 cities.
  • The regular season, for statistics and awards purposes, is complete.
  • Teams will be permitted 50 personnel and small support staff. There will be comprehensive testing at the hub cities.
  • Bettman said, in a follow-up TV interview, that, if conditions are safe, the final two rounds could be held in the respective teams’ home cities.
  • He also said the next season could start as late as…January.

Bettman is doing another media avail soon, so I need to jump off for that, and will add more thoughts on this later. For now, my quick takeaway: it’s great that we’ll have a playoff still, though it’ll be a bizarre experience for everybody and, for me at least, a lot of the luster is taken away with the cold fact of no fans being allowed to see any of the games in person. I doubt that media like me will be let in the building either. We’ll see.

It’s nice that the Avs still have a shot at a No. 1 seed for the playoffs, which will continue on in a bracket format, by the way. No reseeding. What are your thoughts, Avs fan? As Bettman himself said, there is no one format that will make everyone happy. It’s an unprecedented time in our lives.

To see Bettman’s full video talk, click here.

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