The decision is final after the NHL and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) shook hands last Friday.  Edmonton and Toronto in Canada were chosen as the two host cities for the NHL to conclude its series and determine a winner, and qualifying teams are now ready for the Stanley Cup playoffs. If everything pans out, the NHL will returning to play with five matches for the race on Aug 1, disputed at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and Rogers Place in Edmonton.  The league decided to carry out the tournament in Canada because it is a way to protect hockey players from COVID-19; the virus has not been as active there as it has in the US.

NHL Returning Aug 1 To Invade Canada

As part of the plans for the tournament returning on Aug 1, the NHL announced that there will be 24 teams, 12 from each conference.  The Eastern Conference will be based in Toronto; the Western Conference will be in Edmonton.  At the same time, Edmonton will host the Eastern Conference Final match, as well as the Western Conference Final game and the Stanley Cup Final, which is expected to start on Sept. 22 and end no later than Oct. 4.  The Stanley Cup Final is the one of the most viewed NHL tournaments during the year.

The plan is that each Arena will welcome at least three games a day with a potential of 52 matches in a period of nine days during the Qualifiers.  The schedule for the start of the games in Toronto will be conducted at noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. (ET), and, for Edmonton, the start times will be at 2 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. (ET), but there could be a time change up to 30 minutes.  The top four seeds in each conference will face off in a round-robin competition format, and the remaining eight teams will hit the ice in a five-game qualification series.

NHL Fans Won’t Let Anything Stop Them

The hockey league is getting support from fans and followers.  Many people want to have NHL games back and, for that reason, returning to the ice on Aug 1 is being planned very carefully.  The first day of the competition at Toronto will include one game of the best-of-five Eastern qualified teams between the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens, and the New York Islanders and the Florida Panthers.  At Edmonton, which is the other hub city, there will be matches between the Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks and the Calgary Flames against the Winnipeg Jets.

For people who love watching hockey, this is going to be exciting even though there is no possibility of going to the arenas.  But watching the games on TV can also be rewarding for fans.  People must be anxious about this after the season was paused on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Brad Treliving, who is the Calgary Flames general manager, told Sportsnet that it is important how the tournament will start, and that having good camps and preparation beforehand is vital for succeeding under these harsh circumstances.  Treliving also mentioned, “You want to be careful to make sure you get the work in but not burn everybody out in seven days.” His team has been looking after themselves, and the players have been doing a good job, so they are ready for this challenging competition.

Hockey Fans Can Bring The Noise From Home

One of the aspects of this tournament is that the arenas will host no audience, so NHL is asking fans to record their voices to add some real animation to the games.  The idea is that NHL season-ticket holders can record themselves cheering for 30 seconds, and these recorded clips are to be used inside the arenas, as well as on TVs and social media outlets.

The NHL sent an email to fans, requesting them to record, both audio and video, specific chants or messages like “We want the Cup,” among others.  The league added that clips can be specific to each team – such as the “TUUUUUUUUKKKKKKK” yell, which is bellowed when Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask keeps a puck from finding its target, or the “We Are Winnipeg” chant from Winnipeg Jets fans.

With these, players will feel more motivated and enthusiastic about the game.   The NHL is showing that it can be an innovator with this move, and this kind of dynamic action should be used in all the leagues across the US and Canada that host no audience.