On March 12th, the NHL announced that the 2019-20 season had been suspended. This came one day after the NBA suspended their season after they had multiple positive Covid-19 tests. Two months later, on May 26th, the NHL outlined their plan to resume the season in early August.
The restart of the NHL is split into phases:
Phase 1: No players allowed in the facility
Phase 2: Teams permitted to begin small group, voluntary workouts
Phase 3: Training camps begin
Phase 4: Teams will travel to hub cities and resume play
On July 10th, teams entered phase 3 and were officially allowed to begin training camp. Two weeks later, on July 26th, teams will begin traveling to their designated hub cities.
After considering over 10 hub cities, the NHL chose Edmonton and Toronto to hold the NHL playoffs. Teams in the Western Conference will play in Edmonton and teams in the Eastern Conference in Toronto.
The 2019-20 NHL season will officially resume on August 1st, diving immediately into playoff qualifying hockey. Prior to the official playoffs, teams that were on the cusp of playoff qualification when the season was postponed will play in a qualification series. This series is best of 5 and the winning team will advance to the playoffs.
There will also be Round-Robin games between teams that have already qualified for the playoffs. These games will determine seeding for the playoffs.
Here is the schedule for the first 10 days of the return: (if grayed out, the game will only be played if necessary)
As far as health goes, the NHL will issue constant tests to players and staff. On July 20th, the league announced that just 2 players tested positive out of over 800 players tested. This is promising news though a lot can change in the weeks leading up to the return to play.
Here are some other key dates regarding the NHL's return to play:
July 28-July 30: Exhibition games will be played (Predators will face Stars at 3:00pm on July 30th)
August 1st: Qualifying Round begins.
August 11th: 1st Round of Playoffs begin.
August 25th: Second Round of Playoffs begin.
September 8th: Conference Finals begin.
September 22: Stanley Cup Finals begin.
October 9-10th: 2020 NHL Draft *The #1 pick will randomly be given to a team who lost in the Qualifying Round.
The NHL's return to play is currently looking very promising. I will cover the Predators vs Coyotes series in depth in the coming days. Click Here to read about the Predators Goalie situation heading into the Playoffs.