After announcing on May 26th they are going to return after exhaustive discussions between arenas, owners, players, staff, timelines are drawn in the sand.
This time of year most NHL fans are discussing the free agent their team did or did not sign, the potential of their draft picks, and of course planning which games you are going to try and attend. The Northeast is in a track of 90 degree days, so its hard to fathom ice forming on a concrete floor getting ready for the Stanley Cup playoffs. But here we are.
Both sides seems very interested in returning to play. The final hurdle was the CBA. The league's collective bargaining agreement was to end in September. They have extended it to 2026.
So, depending on which is accurate, the players are due back in camp on July 10th or 13th. Games are to begin August 1st. The Eastern conference playing in Toronto, and the Western conference playing in Edmonton.
The first round of series will involve teams 5 thru 12 playing a best of 5. The rest of the series will be a best of 7. The Flyers by virtue of being a top 4 team will play a round robin format with the Caps, Lightning and Bruins to determine their seeding versus the surviving 4 teams.
The players will be sacrificing plenty to get thru this. The testing protocols will be strict and frequent. Into the second rounds, the players families will be allowed in the arena.
The playoff series (best of 5) are:
No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens
No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers
No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers
No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets
No. 5 Oilers vs. No. 12 Blackhawks
No. 6 Predators vs. No. 11 Coyotes
No. 7 Canucks vs. No. 10 Wild
No. 8 Flames vs. No. 9 Jets
Again, the 4 survivors will face the top 4 teams in the next round.