The National Hockey League (NHL) plans to have players return safely to the ice with a five-game schedule of Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Saturday, Aug. 1. The NHL will be addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resumption of the 2019-20 NHL season will allow for the crowning of a Stanley Cup champion by early October.
When competition resumes, the 12 participating Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto, while the 12 participating Western Conference teams will compete in Edmonton. The Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final will take place in Edmonton.
Each team will be permitted to bring a maximum of 52 individuals into the Secure Zones in the hub cities, including a maximum of 31 players.
In keeping with the league’s commitment to the health and safety of all participants, each of the 52 Club personnel will live inside a secure “bubble” – the Phase 4 Secure Zone – and will be tested daily for COVID-19 as well as being administered daily temperature checks and symptom screenings. As well, individuals who might have direct or indirect contact with NHL teams will be tested daily. Any person inside the Secure Zone who tests positive will immediately be isolated.
“While we have all worked very hard to try to address the risks of COVID-19, we know that health and safety are and will continue to be our priorities,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We know that all of our fans are excited about our return to the ice next month and that has been our goal since we paused our season on March 12.”
Games have been scheduled on a staggered basis, providing hours of continuous action. The start times for the 10 days of Stanley Cup Qualifiers in Toronto (Eastern Conference games) will be: noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET. In order to maximize the viewing experience for fans across North America, the start times for the three game windows in Edmonton (Western Conference games) – 2 p.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. ET and 10:30 p.m. ET – may fluctuate by up to 30 minutes during the qualifying round.
The Stanley Cup Qualifiers featuring the 16 teams that are contesting best-of-five series to determine the eight teams advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, commonly referred to as the qualifying round, will begin on Saturday, Aug. 1, with five games: three in Toronto (Carolina vs. NY Rangers, Florida vs. NY Islanders and Montreal vs. Pittsburgh) and two in Edmonton (Chicago vs. Edmonton, Calgary vs. Winnipeg).
The Stanley Cup Qualifiers featuring the top four teams from each conference to determine seeding in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, commonly referred to as the round robin, will begin on Sunday, Aug. 2, with two games, one in each hub city: Boston vs. Philadelphia (at Toronto) and Colorado vs. St. Louis (at Edmonton).
Photo: “While we have all worked very hard to try to address the risks of COVID-19, we know that health and safety are and will continue to be our priorities,” Gary Bettman said.