The National Hockey League has announced a Return To Play Plan for the 2019-20 season, highlighted by a modified competitive format in which 24 teams will return to play and vie for the Stanley Cup at two "hub" cities beginning later this summer.
The Plan also includes an outline for the return of NHL players to their team training facilities (Phase 2) and formal training camp (Phase 3), as well as information regarding the 2020 NHL draft lottery.
The announcement follows approval of the Plan by the League's Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players' Association.
The NHL paused its season on March 12 from concerns over the coronavirus, having played 85 percent of the 2019-20 regular-season schedule that started in early October (1,082 of 1,271 games).
"At the pause, we committed to resuming play only when appropriate and prudent," said commissioner Gary Bettman said in a release posted on NHL.com. "We are hopeful the Return To Play Plan will allow us to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup in a manner in which the health and safety of our players, on-ice officials, team staff and associated individuals involved are paramount. Accordingly, an essential component of the Plan is a rigorous, regular schedule of testing.
"On the hockey side, the return-to-play format reflects the League's extraordinary competitive balance while honoring the tradition and integrity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"The Return To Play Plan is the result of weeks of constructive dialogue with the National Hockey League Players' Association and we are grateful for their cooperation. We also thank our consulting health experts and the local, regional and national authorities who are helping steer us through a complex set of issues."