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Detroit — These things have tended to change daily because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What was considered the path the NHL was going to use to return this summer one day, has changed day to day, or week to week.

The hope has been of having the Red Wings, and all 31 teams, completing the paused regular season. The NHL hit the pause button March 12 because of the pandemic.

But the likelihood of completing the regular season may be diminishing. The Red Wings may not be returning, after all.

Several reports Thursday, including from Elliotte Friedman (Sportsnet, Hockey Night in Canada), indicated the NHL is now aiming toward a return with a 24-team playoff tournament — the top 12 teams from both the Western and Eastern conferences.

The bottom seven teams in the standings — including the Red Wings, who are last among the 31 teams — would not return this summer.

A key reason for the inability to complete the regular season might come down to testing, and the NHL’s inability to secure enough kits to test for the virus.

Also, by not completing the regular season, the amount of time teams need to stay in a centralized “hub” city is likely to be diminished.

There’s still no exact timetable for a return to the ice, though.

How this would affect the NHL draft lottery, and the Red Wings’ exact odds of securing a top pick, isn’t exactly clear.

The Red Wings would have an over 50% chance of securing the No. 1 pick, given the criteria in a memo the NHL sent out last week for a draft to be held in June.

But that could all change given the new tournament format, and with the seven teams not making the playoffs.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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