The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League were both forced to shut down their regular seasons in mid-march due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has been more than two months since that time, and both leagues are still suspended.
There have been several plans created to bring both sports back, and it appears that each league is close to finding a solution. If these latest proposals go through, both the NHL and NBA are set to resume in July.
NBA Looking At Campus-Like Atmosphere
The NBA has developed a return-to-action plan that will house all NBA teams in one remote location. Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas have emerged as the two frontrunners, and one of these spots will likely be chosen.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has told teams and players that he would not be making a decision until June 1, and he is expected to deliver a formal proposal on that date. According to league sources, the return-to-action plan will have three different phases before games can begin.
The first phase will be a two-week period where teams can start recalling their players back to their home markets. Some teams have already opened up their facilities, but this will allow every team to do so.
Next, teams will be able to host individual workouts for up to two weeks. This period will be followed by a two- to three-week formal training camp that will get players and teams ready to resume the season.
This would put the season back at some point in July, which is normally time off for all players and leagues. The NBA Players Association will still have to approve this proposal, but it appears that the league is headed in the right direction.
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NHL Could Expand Playoff Format
The National Hockey League is looking at resuming their season in July as well, but they aren’t planning to include every team. The top proposal that has been presented to the NHL Players Association calls for expanding the playoff field from 16 to 24 teams once play is resumed.
The NHL would not resume their regular season when they return to action, but would instead jump right into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with eight more teams involved than usual. The playoffs would also take place in each conference as opposed to the traditional division format.
There are several reasons for the league to make this change, but a big reason is to include two of the most important teams in the league. Both the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens would have missed the playoffs this season, but they will be included as a part of this plan.
The top four seeds in each conference would be given a first-round “bye,” but the four teams would each compete to shake off the rust. Seeds 5-12 would compete in the first round with a best-of-five series taking place to determine which team will advance. After the play-in round, the rest of the playoffs will have the same format as a traditional Stanley Cup Playoff.
The league will not be letting teams host games in their own arenas, and they are planning to use the same strategy that the NBA will employ. There were 15 different cities that submitted a bid to become a hub city when the NHL season returns, and the league has narrowed that list down to eight or nine teams.
Each conference would likely be sent to one hub, and games would be played very quickly to wrap up the season. The NHLPA is reviewing all parts of this proposal before making a decision.