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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Good News for Blues Fans: Hockey Is Back as NHL Announces Start Date for Training Camps

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2020 at 12:36 PM

click to enlarge Protect the cup! - THEO WELLING
  • Protect the cup!

On almost exactly the one year anniversary of the first St. Louis Stanley Cup Championship, Blues fans awoke to the best news they’ve heard all year: Hockey is back!

The NHL and NHLPA have announced playoff training camps will begin July 10. A training camp rumored to last up to three weeks for the top 24 teams in the NHL will be followed by a Stanley Cup qualifying tournament featuring sixteen teams playing a best of five series and the top four teams from each conference playing a round-robin style tournament for the top seeds in the playoffs.

The qualifiers will be held in two hub cities yet to be determined — one for the twelve Eastern Conference teams and one for the twelve Western Conference teams.

In the east, the top four teams are the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers. The top four teams in the west are your defending champion St. Louis Blues, the Dallas Stars, Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the Kroenke-owned super villains, the Colorado Avalanche.

The best of five series will feature the Pittsburgh Penguins versus the Montreal Canadiens; the Carolina Hurricanes versus the New York Rangers; the New York Islanders versus the Florida Panthers; and the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Columbus Blue Jackets in the east. The west will see the Winnipeg Jets versus the Calgary Flames; the Nashville Predators versus the Arizona Coyotes; the Vancouver Canucks versus the Minnesota Wild; and the Edmonton Oilers versus the lowly Chicago Blackhawks.

After the qualifying round, the winners of the best of five series will each advance to face one of the top four teams from their conference in the official first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. All remaining series will be best of seven and determined by seeding, not a set bracket.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said there is a slim possibility the final three series could be played in the home arenas of the teams that reach those rounds, but that would require a substantial change in the outlook of the pandemic. What’s most likely is that all games will be played in the hub cities without fans in attendance.

One year after their first championship win, the Blues players and fans can finally get back on the road to Gloria.

It's time, Blues fans. Time to Protect the Cup!

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