The National Hockey League is planning to allow the reopening of team training facilities on June 8. This is a critical part of Phase 2 of the Return to Play plan.
As per the plan details, players will be able to participate in individualized training activities upon return to their facilities. No more than six players may take part in training activities at one time. A limited number of team staff will be permitted.
Players returning to train will do so on a voluntary basis.
We also learned a little more about the playoffs under the Return to Play plan.
The playoffs will be reseeded after each round, said Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. That means the playoffs will not use a bracketed system to determine seeding. The qualifying round will be a best-of-five tournament, while the remaining rounds will be best-of-seven.
The top four seeds in each conference will be determined by a three-game round robin tournament.
In the case of tie-breakers in the aforementioned round robin tournament, the tie will be broken by the team’s regular season points percentage. Following the conclusion of the round robin tournament, seeding order will remain the same for the remainder of the playoffs.
With games taking place in hub cities, home ice advantage becomes an interesting quandary. Luckily, the NHL has some a plan.
In the five-game qualifying rounds of the playoffs, the higher-seeded club will be determined as the “home team” in Game One, Game Two, and Game Five. The lower-seeded club will be the home team in Game Three and Game Four.
In the first three rounds of the official Stanley Cup Playoffs, the higher-seeded team will be the home team in Games One, Two, Five, and Seven. The lower-seeded team will be the home team in the remaining games, obviously.
In the Stanley Cup Final, however, the team with the higher regular season points percentage will be the home team for Games One, Two, Five, and Seven.
The NHL will be moving through its phases with a deliberate pace. We know that Phase 3, which includes a return to training camps, will not launch until July 10 at the earliest.