NHLPA approves going forward with 24-team playoff talks

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				Ryan Strome of the Rangers checks the Islanders Johnny Boychuk.			Paul J. Bereswill

Approving a format for the NHL's contemplated return to the ice this summer should have been relatively easy and the least of the league's and NHLPA's problems.

According to the report, details of player safety remain unsettled. And these would seem to be the most pertinent issues.

"The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the victor of the 2020 Stanley Cup", the NHLPA said in a statement.

And while the belief has nearly always been that the NHLPA would vote to continue, multiple reports noted that the call on Thursday night was at times contentious and even heated, as not everybody has been on board with the NHL's plans to resume, the 24-team format, and the financial particulars of a potential return.

The seven teams outside the playoffs would not return to play. In giving the format the green light, the NHLPA stressed several details still need to be negotiated before games can begin. The top four Western Conference teams would be the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars.

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The seven teams on the outside looking in would be Buffalo and New Jersey - which both sat just 0.007 percentage points back of Montreal - Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Ottawa and Detroit.

As reports swirled that the Pittsburgh Penguins voted against the 24-team resumption of the National Hockey League season, the team's NHLPA representative, Kris Letang, said that he voted in favour of the proposal. That has become all but irrelevant. The Habs were 10 points out of a playoff berth when the season stopped and at a games-played disadvantage.

There is no timetable attached to a contemplated 2019-20 restart, though the consensus is that training camps likely wouldn't open until late June or early July. No. 10 Florida, and No. 6 Carolina vs.

Prominent player agent Allan Walsh, co-managing director of Octagon Hockey, called Friday's announcement, "A significant but incremental step forward with a long road still to go before we actually drop the puck on a Return to Play".

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