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NHLPA Executive Board expected to approve 24-team Return to Play proposal

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The National Hockey League Players’ Association’s Executive Board is expected to approve a 24-team Return to Play proposal put forth by the NHL according to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie.

McKenzie tweets the NHLPA executive committee conference call held Thursday night got “a little heated at times” and various individual players still have a wide variety of views on the NHL’s Return to Play proposal, but it is expected to have at least 18 of the possible 31 votes needed to be approved.

“If that is indeed the case, and I believe team by team balloting has concluded or will conclude shortly, it should pave the way for the NHL and NHLPA to perhaps formally announce the RTP format in the coming days,” he tweeted.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun adds that even once the NHL has an answer from the NHLPA on the Return to Play proposal, the league has its own process to go through, but the expectation is an official announcement would come within a few days.

According to McKenzie, an announcement is not expected to come with any timetable or critical date rollout.

Under this scenario, the top four teams in each conference would play each other with the other 16 teams having to go through a best-of-five series play-in round for the chance at chasing the Stanley Cup if the league is able to resume its 2019-20 season this summer.

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“If voting passes additional details [need] to be negotiated with the NHL, “TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger tweeted Thursday night.

The league is also considering several hub cities as an option to resume play in a centralized manner but has repeatedly said they are not close to determining what locations – if any – will be used.

The NHL’s regular season was paused on March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic, one day after Rudy Gobert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19 and began a domino effect that brought the sports world to a halt.

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