Professional sports leagues in the United States — with Major League Baseball being the major exception — made significant strides last week as they try to come back from the coronavirus pandemic that shut down play in March. Here’s a recap:
The latest: Disclosed details of its planned Stanley Cup playoff format and said teams will be allowed to open training facilities Monday so that players can begin voluntary workouts in groups no larger than six.
Teams involved: 24 of 31 (top 12 in each conference based on points percentage when play stopped). That would include the Wild.
The plan: An immediate jump to the postseason, leaving the final 15% of regular-season games unplayed. First, there would be four best-of-five qualifying series in each conference (5 seed vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9). There then would be four best-of-seven rounds with reseeding after each. The top four teams in each conference would play separate round-robin tournaments to determine seeds 1-4. The 10th-seeded Wild would open against seventh-seeded Vancouver.
Location of games: One hub site for each conference, one of which could be the Twin Cities.
Targeted start of play: Late July or early August.
The latest: The players association voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, clearing the way for MLS to become the first major league in the U.S. to return to action.
Teams involved: All 26, including Minnesota United.
The plan: The season would resume with a World Cup-like tournament at one site. Sixteen teams would advance from group play to a knockout stage, which would produce a champion. League officials also have proposed 18 more regular-season games — nine home, nine away — in teams’ home markets. That would be followed by the playoffs.
Location of games: For starters, the tournament would be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando.
Targeted start of play: Early July.
The latest: Proposed starting its delayed regular season in a single location, similar to the plan the NBA unveiled, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.
Teams involved: All 12, including the Lynx.
The plan: A 22-game regular season, plus a postseason.
Location of games: IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Targeted start of play: July 24.
The latest: The players association voted to approve the league’s return-to-play plan and to continue with negotiations toward a resumption of the 2019-20 season.
Teams involved: 22 of 30, featuring the 16 teams that were in Eastern and Western conference playoff positions and the six teams that were within six games of a playoff spot when the league suspended play (that breaks down to 13 in the West and nine in the East). That does not include the Timberwolves.
The plan: Each team would play eight more regular-season games — or “seeding” games. The season would then continue with its typical structure: four best-of-seven playoff rounds based on 1 to 8 seeding in the East and West. The eighth seed could potentially come down to a play-in tournament.
Location of games: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando.
Targeted start of play: July 31.
Staff and wire reports