By ABC News
(NEW YORK) — The National Hockey League, on hiatus since March 12, announced on Tuesday its intention to restart team training camps by mid-July in preparation for an amended Stanley Cup playoffs to be held in two “hub” cities.
Twenty-four of the league’s 31 teams will return to the ice to vie for the Stanley Cup, up from the 16 teams that usually make the playoffs.
Each of the two conferences will conduct its games in a “hub” city to be selected from among Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver, league officials said.
The top four teams in each conference will play a round-robin series to determine seeding, while the conference’s remaining eight teams will play a best-of-five qualifying round, with the winners joining the top seeds for the playoffs’ first round.
Game dates and series formats are yet to be announced and will depend on medical conditions and government regulations.
“We are hopeful the Return To Play Plan will allow us to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup in a manner in which the health and safety of our players, on-ice officials, team staff and associated individuals involved are paramount,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
Meanwhile, officials with the National Basketball Association, whose season runs roughly parallel to the NHL’s, are holding exploratory talks with The Walt Disney Company, ABC News’ parent company, about resuming the NBA season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, in late July, league officials say.
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