Rosy as the news might sound, Gary Bettman made no promises in announcing the NHL has the framework of a plan in place to return to the ice.

“We hope,” the commissioner said, “that this is a step back toward normalcy.”

The league and its players overcame a significant hurdle Tuesday when Bettman formally unveiled a 24-team expanded playoff format in which games could start as early as late July in two yet-to-be-determined cities.

The plan — as with anything involving forming a timetable around the coronavirus pandemic —- comes with no certainties.

“Obviously, there are lots of things to be done,” Bettman said, noting health and safety come first. “But this marks a very important step along the journey that we’re undertaking.”

Under the plan,

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