The NHL was not only halted right in its tracks when the coronavirus pandemic shut sports down, but the shutdown came right as the league was gearing up for the postseason.
Gary Bettman's plan to restart play involves scrapping the regular season and launching straight into a 24-team playoff, which could help boost TV ratings after months without a single puck being dropped.
A 24-team playoff format would mean every Western Conference team except the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks would make the playoffs. In the Eastern Conference, only the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, and Detroit Red Wings would not make the postseason.
While this proposal has a lot of fine-tuning before it is approved, the league has all but confirmed, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, that they want to restart with the playoffs and can the rest of the regular season.
Yes, 24 teams would be a bit odd for a playoff format, and some would argue it would cheapen the sense of achievement, but it would be a catalyst for getting more eyes on the sport amid a restart, so it makes sense from that perspective.