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NHL’s 24-team format: Blackhawks set to play Oilers in Edmonton; Chicago not named hub city

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The Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto, while the Western teams head to Edmonton.

Chicago Blackhawks v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

The Blackhawks will play their best-of-five qualifier series against the Oilers in Edmonton, Sportsnet confirmed Wednesday. All Western Conference teams will play in Edmonton, while Eastern teams will be in Toronto for the League’s 24-team Return to Play format.

Chicago was among the last two cities to be cut from consideration along with Las Vegas. The two American cities might have stood a better chance had Canada not allowed a city to act as a hub for international travel and with lower COVID-19 numbers.

The event wouldn’t have brought the same economic boon to the city as it would have in past years, however, and while it would have included multiple hotels being booked, having athletes from all across North America travel to the city may end up being a good thing.

Blackhawks players have started to report back to Chicago for voluntary small group workouts (no more than 12 players) prior to a formal training camp July 10 at Fifth Third Arena. Training camp will last about two weeks, with Eastern teams traveling to Toronto and Western teams to Edmonton by July 23 or July 24 before one exhibition game then the qualifiers begin July 30, according to the New York Post.

Illinois, like the rest of the United States, has experienced a decline in the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests as they’ve become more widely distributed, but has a smaller percentage than the country as a whole, with 2.7 percent positive in the last seven-day average versus six percent for the country. Nevada’s seven-day average, meanwhile, stands at 11.2 percent positive.

Eastern Conference

Toronto – Top 4 round-robin

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

Toronto – 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

Western Conference

Edmonton – Round Robin for Seeding in First Round

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

Edmonton – 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