"We're going to go to the places that in terms of the logistics, the health issue I talked about, the testing issue I talked about, the governmental issues we talked about, we're not hung up on east-west", said Commissioner Gary Bettman on a video conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
The league's regular season is over, Bettman said at a news conference.
The league and players' association agreed to the restart plan this week, making the NHL the first of the "big four" North American sports leagues to formalize some details of how its sport will resume during the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday's news conference held significance in that it offered a pathway for a return to the ice, even as specifics remain unclear and uncertainties linger.
As they wait for the field to be set, the Eastern and Western Conferences' top finishers will play in a round robin to determine how they'll be seeded in the playoff bracket.
And Phase 4 is where a playoff would begin with 24 teams, 12 from each conference.
Bettman also appeared to comment on what Major League Baseball is going through: a dispute over the planned revenue split between team owners and players if the league returns for an 82-game season. That could include players from different teams who live in the same city.
The alternate playoff format and abrupt ending to the regular season, which still had several weeks remaining when play was halted March 12, impacts the outcomes of futures bets, like the odds to win divisions and regular-season point totals.
Games are expected to be played in two hub cities and Bettman said 10 are in the running: Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis/St. Paul in the USA and Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. Bettman said that there is a chance a team could move to the other "hub" city if their location is one of the chosen two.
The format and series length of the first and second rounds is still to be determined, while the conference championships and Stanley Cup Finals will both best best-of-seven.
A 24 team format is ideal, because it gives a team like the Rangers a chance to make a run at a Stanley Cup Title.
The round robin for the top teams was installed as a way to give those teams meaningful hockey to play while waiting for the qualifying round to be completed. The league has been in its Phase 1 self-quarantine period since March 13.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said players, coaches and other team personnel will continue to be tested for COVID-19 throughout the progression of phases, and those tests would be conducted every night during Phase 4 (resumption of games).
"Obviously we can't be in the situation where we have an outbreak, and that will affect our ability to continue playing", Daly said.
The seven teams eliminated from contention and eight placeholders will be eligible.
Of course, the biggest pitfalls of the NHL's plan are coronavirus-related: if the US sees a new spike in cases before July, that could derail the leagues from coming back. No. 11 New York Rangers, No. 7 New York Islanders vs.
The NHL officially has a plan in place to resume and conclude its season, and the Florida Panthers will be involved.
Also, the National Hockey League will hold its draft lottery June 26, which would have been the night of the first round. Ovechkin scored 48 goals in 2019-20, tying with Boston's David Pastrnak. No. 12 Chicago, No. 6 Nashville vs.