The NHL took another step toward a return Thursday, when it announced a transition to Phase 2 of its Return To Play Plan starting Monday.
The Blackhawks and the other 23 teams involved in the League’s 24-team return-to-play format will be allowed to open their training facilities for players to participate in individualized voluntary training activities — both on and off the ice. No more than six players, plus a limited number of team staff, will be allowed in the facility.
With the workouts being voluntary, players are not expected to report to their NHL city and most of them will wait until the NHL Players’ Association and the League finalize negotiations for Phases 3 and 4.
The NHL announced last week teams will play in two hub cities with training camps beginning no earlier than July 10. Chicago is among the 10 cities under consideration to be one of the two hub cities.
The Blackhawks, the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference, are slated to face the No. 5 seeded Oilers in a best-of-five Qualify Round series. Chicago was 2-1 with a plus-1 goal differential against Edmonton during the regular season. The Blackhawks will be the “home” team for Games 3 and 4 of the series.
If the Blackhawks defeat the Oilers they’ll advance to the round of 16 to face the top seed in the West, which will be determined by a three-game round robin featuring the top four teams in the conference: Blues, Avalanche, Golden Knights and Stars. In case of a tiebreaker in the round robin, ties will be broken by regular season points percentage. The 16-team playoffs will be all best-of-seven series with re-seeding after each round.
Western Conference playoff picture
3. Golden Knights
5. Oilers vs. 12. Blackhawks
6. Predators vs. 11. Coyotes
7. Canucks vs. 10. Wild
8. Flames vs. 9. Jets
How Blackhawks fared against top four seeds
- St. Louis: 0-4
- Colorado: 1-3
- Vegas: 1-1-1
- Dallas: 1-1-1
• In the first three rounds, the higher-seeded club will be designated as the home team for Games 1, 2, 5 and 7, while the the lower-seeded team will have that designation for Games 3, 4 and 6.
• For the Stanley Cup Final, the team with the higher regular-season points percentage will be designated as the home team for Games 1, 2, 5 and 7, while the other finalist will be the home team for Games 3, 4 and 6.