WE'RE BACK — maybe.
It sounds like this announcement might just be formalizing the 24-team format the NHL and NHLPA have agreed upon and there might not necessarily be any news about a potential date or locations for a restart. But I'm hopeful that the publicizing and televising of this announcement means it's pretty big news, so maybe we really will get an actual announcement that hockey is coming back.
I honestly can't wait another three hours for whatever this turns out to be. If it really is news of the first professional league saying it's coming back to play again, this would be the best day of 2020 by a long shot. We all need it.
And what a great opportunity for the NHL to finally have some good marketing and branding on its side for once. Being the first professional sport to return in 2020 would be the best thing hockey could possibly do for its national perception and popularity for the rest of this season and then hopefully beyond.
The format that will be adopted is a modified playoff structure that includes 24 teams, with the top four seeds in each conference getting a bye in the first round and playing each other to determine the No. 1-4 spots. The bracket would look like this:
I don't know that I am enthralled with the idea of jumping right into the playoffs, but if this announcement was that only the top two teams were finishing the season in a seven-game series, I'd be all for it. Just give us a North American major professional sport back.
Come on, NHL. Give the people what they want.