The National Hockey League is returning to the ice and TV screens Saturday, August 1 at 12:00 PM ET with the New York Rangers taking on the Carolina Hurricanes in the first game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers. The qualifiers will include 16 teams playing eight best-of-5 series and a round-robin among the top four teams in each conference to determine seeds for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The early qualifying rounds will feature up to 10 hours of game time a day, with some starting as early as noon and as late as 10:30pm ET.
Coverage will be courtesy of NBC Sports in the US, airing on NBC, NBC Sports Network and USA Network. Canadian coverage will be on SN and its affiliates BCB and TVAS. The NHL will also be streaming 21 games on its website NHL.com, but local blackouts apply.
The NHL was supposed to have a March start but like all sports, was delayed due to the pandemic. Though the playoffs will be back in session, it’s still not quite business as usual. The games will be played at two hub cities to limit the risk of spreading COVID-19. Eastern Conference games will be held in Toronto, and Western Conference teams will play in Edmonton.
According to the NHL, a comprehensive system for testing will be in place in each hub city, and each team will be permitted to travel a maximum of 52 personnel, including players, coaches and staff.
“I want to make clear that the health and safety of our players, coaches, essential support staff and our communities are paramount,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said when announcing the Return to Play Plan. “While nothing is without risk, ensuring health and safety has been central to all of our planning so far and will remain so.
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