The National Hockey League is moving closer to returning to the ice and resuming a season that was put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Executive Board of the NHL Players’ Association on Friday authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup.
The NHLPA, in making the announcement, stressed that several details still must be negotiated. It said an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties agreeing on all issues relevant to resuming play.
The NHL said it was “pausing” the season on March 12 because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus. The pause turned into weeks and now months and many players returned to their homes and home countries to be with their families during the global health crisis.
The Carolina Hurricanes, who reached the Eastern Conference finals last season, will be among the 24 teams in the restart. The Canes, before the season suspension, were 38-25-5 after 68 games — ranking sixth in the Eastern Conference with 81 points — and held the first wild-card playoff spot.