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NHL finalizes playoff format as Pens player tests positive

June 4th, 2020 by WCBC Radio

The NHL announced Thurday that every playoff series will be a best-of-seven format after the intial qualifying round and teams will be reseeded throughout if the league is able to return with its 24-team plan later this summer.

The announcement came at nearly the same time the Pittsburgh Penguins revealed one of their players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The team said the unidentified player was not in Pittsburgh, was isolated after experiencing symptoms and has recovered.

So far, nine NHL players have tested positive: five from Ottawa, three from Colorado and one from Pittsburgh. The league is expected to test players daily if games resume. The NHL is still asessing health and safety protocols for what it has said could be 24 teams playing each other in two hub cities.

“We still have a lot of things to figure out, namely the safety of the players," Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler said earlier this week. “We've got to make sure that our safety is at the top of that list. Because we’re a few months into this pandemic, we don’t know what the long term effects are going to be. A lot of questions to be answered.”

The NHL has not announced the start of voluntary workouts or a firm timeline for training camps and the resumption of games. But the final details of the format answered one question: Players preferred re-seeding throughout a 24-team playoff as a means of fairness, though the league likes the brackets that have been in place since 2014.

“We prefer as a general matter brackets for a whole host of reasons,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week. “We’ve told the players who have been debating it internally if they have a preference, we’re happy to abide by it.”

The top four teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences will play separate round-robin tournaments to determine seeding. Re-seeding each round puts more value on the seeding tournaments between Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia in the East and St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas in the West.

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