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Playoff-bound Blackhawks will play Oilers in ‘qualifying round’ best-of-5 series

Chicago is among 10 cities being considered as one of two hub cities.

Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The drought is over.

The Blackhawks are a playoff team for the first time since 2017, although it comes with an asterisk.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the League’s 2019-20 season return-to-play plan in a televised special Tuesday afternoon. The NHL has abandoned the rest of the season and will go straight to a 24-team format.

The Blackhawks, the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference, will play a best-of-five “qualifying round” series against the No. 5 seeded Oilers in a to-be-announced hub city. Chicago was 2-1 with a plus-1 goal differential against Edmonton during the regular season.

“We are excited that the Chicago Blackhawks will be among the teams that will compete for the Stanley Cup, per the National Hockey League’s Return to Play Plan...That alone is great for our fans, the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois,” Blackhawks interim president Danny Wirtz said in a statement.

The top four teams in each conference will play a round-robin tournament to determine their seeds. The series involving the fifth- through 12th-place teams will be played with playoff-style overtime rules. They also won’t be considered regular season games and won’t have statistics counted for the regular season. The first and second round format (seeding vs. bracket) series lengths have yet to be determined. The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will be best-of-seven series.

“The reason we are doing this is because our fans are telling us, in overwhelming numbers, they want us to finish the season if it’s possible,” Bettman said.

The League is considering 10 cities for its two hub cities, including Chicago. The others are Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver. Columbus and Las Vegas have been considered favorites. Teams will be limited to 50 personnel in the “hub” city with a small number of support staff permitted to enter the event areas.

“We are also proud that Chicago, including our home arena the United Center, is being considered as one of the two possible hub cities as part of the league’s plan,” Wirtz said.

There are no specific dates, but the League hopes to resume training camps in early July and award the Stanley Cup in the fall.

City 1

Eastern teams and points percentage

1. Bruins — .714
2. Lightning — .657
3. Capitals — .652
4. Flyers — .645
5. Penguins — .623
6. Hurricanes — .596
7. Islanders — .588
8. Maple Leafs — .579
9. Blue Jackets — .579
10. Panthers — .565
11. Rangers — .564
12. Canadiens — .500

City 1 – Round Robin for Seeding in First Round

1. Bruins
2. Lightning
3. Capitals
4. Flyers

City 1 – Best-of-5 Qualifying Round

5. Penguins vs. 12. Canadiens
6. Hurricanes vs. 11. Rangers
7. Islanders vs. 10. Panthers
8. Maple Leafs vs. 9. Blue Jackets

City 2

Western teams and points percentage

1. Blues — .662
2. Avalanche — .657
3. Golden Knights — .606
4. Stars — .594
5. Oilers — .585
6. Predators — .565
7. Canucks — .565
8. Flames — .564
9. Jets — .563
10. Wild — .558
11. Coyotes — .529
12. Blackhawks — .514

City 2 – Round Robin for Seeding in First Round

1. Blues
2. Avalanche
3. Golden Knights
4. Stars

City 2 – Best-of-5 Qualifying Round

5. Oilers vs. 12. Blackhawks
6. Predators vs. 11. Coyotes
7. Canucks vs. 10. Wild
8. Flames vs. 9. Jets