By Joe Pantorno
The NHL announced Thursday morning that Phase 3 of its restart plan, which is formal training camps, will officially begin on Friday, July 10 for the 24 teams involved in the league’s expanded postseason format to finish the 2019-20 season.
The announcement comes just days after the league began its Phase 2 on Monday, allowing for players to work in small groups for on and off-ice activities.
It remains to be seen how long Phase 3 of training camp will run and when a formal resumption of play (Phase 4) will begin.
But given the timeline of the expanded postseason, it’s reasonable to believe that the league will be looking at an official start date of July 27-31 to ensure enough time for the Stanley Cup winner to be decided.
The NHL decided to cut the regular season short after the coronavirus pandemic halted play on March 12.
Despite teams having played an uneven amount of games, the league opted to expand its playoff format for this season, ensuring 12 teams per conference get into the postseason, which will be played at two undetermined central locations.
The top four seeds in each conference will partake in a round-robin tournament to decide their final rankings while the 5-12 seeds face off in a best-of-five play-in series.
The winners move on to the more traditional 16-team Stanley Cup Playoffs while the eight losers will head into the NHL Draft Lottery.