NHL to Wrap up Season With 24-Team Playoff The news was announced by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pro hockey suspended the 2019-20 season on March 12. According to 'USA Today,' the top 12 teams in both the Western and Eastern Conferences have qualified. Seven squads whose records placed them at the bottom of the standings are done for the year. In both conferences, the top four teams automatically head to the next round. To advance, the rest of the qualifying teams will have to play. 'USA Today' adds that proposals see a best-of-five series determining who gets past the opening round. The top four squads will play in-conference round-robin games to decide postseason rankings. In a vote late last week, the new schedule was approved by the NHL Players’ Association. Bettman adds that two cities will host East and West playoff games, respectively. Among the areas being considered for the playoffs are Vancouver, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Toronto.