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While a number of different options remain on the table, the NHL may be leaning toward an unprecedented 24-team playoff format if the 2019-20 season resumes.
"On Wednesday, in the Return To Play committee call, I'm told that 16, 20, and 24 (teams) were again talked about as options," TSN's Pierre LeBrun said on Thursday's edition of "Insider Trading."
"Of those three, from talking to people around the league both on the teams' side and on the players' side, 24 teams seems to be gathering a bit of traction."
The format could potentially hand postseason berths to teams that weren't previously considered to be in the playoff race. Two examples are the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens, who sit in 12th place in the Western and Eastern Conference, respectively.
The format's specifics aren't entirely known, but it would eliminate the need to finish the regular season.
"You could easily adopt a play-in format that trims 24 down to the traditional 16 playoff teams," TSN's Darren Dreger added. "And by doing that, you don't have regular-season games, you have three-to-six play-in games, and that means you can get through the process more quickly."
LeBrun added that no decisions have been made and that these are just conversations between the sides.
The league is reportedly hoping to open its team facilities in mid-to-late May to commence Phase 2 of its plan to return to the ice.