NHL and NHLPA Ratify New CBA; Release Dates/Times for Expanded Playoffs

Minnesota Wild forward Jordan Greenway (18) celebrates his goal against the Winnipeg Jets his first of his career in the NHL during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Apr. 15, 2018. Marilyn Indahl / USA TODAY Sports

The NHL is officially back! In a newly ratified collective bargaining agreement on Friday, the puck is set to drop on August 1st, in a resumption of the 2019-2020 season, and the start of their expanded playoff format. That means Minnesota Wild hockey is back too!

Unlike the NBA, the return to play will be held in two separate hub cities by conference. The Eastern Conference games will be playing in Toronto while the Western Conference games will be in Edmonton. The decision to play in Canada instead of the United States likely has to do with safety concerns with recent spikes of COVID-19 in the United States.

When it goes down

Training camps will open up on July 13th and teams will travel to their hub cities on July 26th where they will be isolated in the bubble. Exhibition games will be held before the August 1st start from July 28th to July 30th.

What this means for the Wild

We already knew the Wild would be facing the Vancouver Canucks in a best-of-five Stanley Cup Qualifier, to start the expanded playoff format, but we now know the dates and times these games will be played. There will be five games to mark the NHL’s return on August 1st, but the Wild won’t be part of it. Instead, Game 1 “on the road” against the Canucks, will be played the next day, August 2nd.

Game 2 will be held two days later, on August 4th, followed by a “home” Game 3, on August 6th. If necessary, a fourth game will be played on August 7th, and a fifth game on August 9th. All qualifier games will be done by August 10th. The times of these games have also been recently released but you need to add 2 hours for the Central Time Zone… so some of these games are going to be late af (starting at 9:30 PM CT).

If the Wild are able to make it past the Canucks, they will move on to the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If not, their season will be done and the organization will leave the Edmonton bubble.

Just Win Baby… or not?

While lots of Minnesota Wild fans want to see their team go as far as possible, hopefully hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in the end… some (like Jack), are calling for the Wild to throw the series, so they can have a 1/8 chance of landing the #1 overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. If the Wild lose to Vancouver in the qualifying series, they’ll keep their 12.5% chance at winning the draft lottery.

Regardless of what happens, hockey will be back very soon and that is reason to celebrate.

Sam Sklar | Minnesota Sports Fan

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