Like most if not every other major sports league, the NHL halted its season because of COVID-19. And like most if not every other major sports league, it has been trying to find a way to safely return to play.

The AHL, the top minor league level feeding into the NHL, has already made a tough call. It canceled the rest of its regular season and the 2020 postseason. The Milwaukee Admirals were recognized as the regular season champions. But the NHL seems poised to take a different route.

Skipping rest of the regular season, planning for 24-team postseason

The NHL is forgoing the remainder of the 2019-2020 regular season.

Stats for the games that were played will still count. Awards are still intended to be given out as they normally would be.

This marks the fourth time in the last 30 years that an NHL season has been shortened or canceled. But this one is different in at least one major way. The others were caused by labor disputes.

It's still not a guarantee that the playoffs will be able to be completed. If the games do end up being played, it would be without crowds in attendance. Another big difference: the amount of teams that qualify for the playoffs. For many years now, 16 teams have made the NHL's postseason. But that wouldn't be the case in 2020. Instead, 24 teams would make the cut.

The new format would involve other elements like round-robin tournaments to decide the seedings.

Although some details have yet to be decided, the NHLPA approved the plan earlier in May. Two team representatives voted against the plan. ESPN reports that they were representatives from the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes.

One thing that does seem set is the length of the Stanley Cup Final.

As usual, it would be a best-of-seven series. In other words, whichever team wins four games first wins the championship.

The games would be played in two so-called hub cities

Should things go according to plan for the NHL, all of the games would be played in two cities. They've been referred to as 'hub cities'.

In theory it would greatly reduce travel and many of the hazards that go with it.

It hasn't been announced with cities would be the hosts, but a list of candidates has been released. Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh are being considered in the United States. Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver are the Canadian cities in consideration.

Yahoo reports that there could be a problem with the Canadian candidates. The country's current quarantine policy would make it unfeasible to hold the games there. Unless there's some kind of change soon, both cities are most likely going to be in the United States.

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