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Bettman: NHL's return would need to be fair to bubble teams

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If the NHL's 2019-20 regular season resumes, commissioner Gary Bettman intends to ensure all teams in the playoff mix get equal opportunities to compete.

"There are at least seven teams that were on the bubble of making the playoffs and not all of the teams had played the same number of games," Bettman told FOX Business Network on Wednesday. "Whatever we do to come back ... whether it's complete the regular season in whole or in part, whether or not it's expanded playoffs, we're going to have to do something that's fair and has integrity.

"That's going to be very important no matter what it is we do and we're considering all of the alternatives. And nothing has been ruled in and nothing has been ruled out."

When the NHL season came to a halt March 12, the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, and New York Rangers were within three points of a playoff spot in the East, while the Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild, and Arizona Coyotes were within four points in the West.

Several players around the league have spoken out about hoping to have a chance at the playoffs, including Panthers stars Aleksander Barkov and Sergei Bobrovsky, who said it wouldn't be fair if the league jumped straight to the postseason with 11-14 games remaining on each team's schedule.

Rangers winger and potential MVP candidate Artemi Panarin also said it would be unfair if his New York squad didn't get a chance to make the playoffs after surging up the standings in the second half of the season.

Bettman recently said teams would need two-to-three week training camps to get back into game shape and revealed the league has explored the idea of playing at neutral sites.

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