The NHL is the first American professional sport to announce their plans for a return as commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon that the league will move to a 24-team tournament. Bettman revealed that they will not resume the regular season but will instead host a tournament with the top four seeds in each conference playing a round-robin to determine Top 4 seeds and then a best-of-five play-in series for the remaining teams.
And yes, that includes the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks will be the 12th seed in the Western Conference and take on the No. 3-seeded Edmonton Oilers in that best-of-five. But where will it be? That’s the biggest remaining question.
While making the announcement on Tuesday afternoon, Bettman revealed that there are 10 cities in consideration to host the two conferences for the tournament. The NHL will name two cities as “hub cities” for the tournament and that includes the city of Chicago.
Per Bettman, the following 10 teams are in consideration to host the tournament: Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.
“We are excited that the Chicago Blackhawks will be among the teams that will compete for the Stanley Cup, per the National Hockey League’s Return to Play Plan announced today. That alone is great for our fans, the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. We are also proud that Chicago, including our home arena the United Center, is being considered as one of the two possible hub cities as part of the league’s plan.
Moving forward, we will stay in close communication with the NHL, the City of Chicago and state leaders to ensure safety protocols for our players and staff are met. We anticipate a controlled conditioning phase followed by a formal training camp.”
There are still details to iron out before this becomes a realistic scenario and the league has not set any start dates just yet. Chicago would make sense to be a host due to having the United Center as well as several hotels available to host teams.
A decision on the two cities is likely to be made sometime in June.