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NHL announces return-to-play plan for 2020 playoff

Games begin Aug. 1 in Edmonton and Toronto. Tampa Bay's first game is Aug. 2.
Credit: AP
Goals used by the NHL hockey club Nashville Predators are stored in a hallway in Bridgestone Arena, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The NHL announced Thursday it is suspending its season indefinitely in response to the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

TAMPA, Fla. — It's official: Hockey is back.

After a 142-day pause, the National Hockey League will drop the puck on Aug. 1.

The NHL and NHLPA ratified a Return to Play Plan and a four-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement through 2025-26, ensuring labor peace for the next six years.

Training camps open Monday. To ensure health and safety, all 52 personnel from each club will live in a "bubble" environment, starting July 26.

The Lightning and 11 other Eastern Conference teams will restart the season in Toronto, and Western Conference teams will play in Edmonton.

The Bolts are one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference to play three games in a round robin format to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoff. 

Tampa Bay's first game is August 2 against the Washington Capitals. The Bolts play the Boston Bruins on August 5 and the Philadelphia Flyers on August 9.

The remaining teams in each conference will play best-of-5 series to qualify for the playoff. The full schedule of qualifying rounds can be found here.

First round games -- and the Lightning's shot at redemption after last year's sweep -- begin August 11.

If all goes as planned, the league will crown a Stanley Cup champion in early October.

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