The announcement came yesterday afternoon… big news… not only about a return to play for the completion of the current season, but the bigger news is the extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA. An extension that, if adopted, will run through September 15, 2026.
Here are the highlights…
- The Return to Play plan and CBA Extension will be voted on by the owners and the players over the next few days and there is very little expectation of these agreements not being adopted.
- Training camp opening is set for Monday July 13th. The only players eligible to participate are players that are eligible for the 2020 playoffs.
- Rosters will be limited to 30 skaters, however, goalies are not part of this number nor limited in how many can attend camp.
- Testing will be mandatory every other day for players, team personnel and anyone in the vicinity of players will be tested every other day.
- The teams will travel to the hub cities on July 26th.
- Hub cities are still yet to be announced, but the strong expectations are that both will be located in Canada.
- There will be “secure zones” set up in each city. These zones will include the arena, practice facilities, hotels and restaurants.
- Each team will be limited to 52 individuals that will be allowed into the “secure zone.” 31 players are part of that number. That list will need to be sent to the NHL by July 13th.
- The Stanley Cup qualifying round is scheduled to begin on August 1st.
- Family members will not be allowed into the “secure zones” until the conference finals.
- The conference finals and Cup Final will take place in one of the two hub cities.
The details are extensive, laying out almost all of the knowns… what happens when a player leaves the secure zone without permission? will players that test positive be have their identities revealed? The Phase 4 Protocol is 28 pages long.
Let’s face it… that is news that is great… and not-so-great… kinda like your worst enemy going over a cliff in your brand new Porsche. Any sane person will approach this with some serious trepidation. Let's just hope that the secure zones work and the players stay safe.
The unqualified great news is the extension of the CBA. It is a six year (potentially seven year) extension of the current agreement that will assure hockey fans of the favorite sport (virus depending) until 2026.
Both sides got things they wanted… both sides didn’t get things they wanted… it was a… hmmm… what’s the word?
Oh yeah… compromise. It kinda gives you hope about the rest of the world when the NHLPA and the NHL can compromise. Here are some of the highlights as reported by several media sources…
- Olympic participation – NHL players will play in the 2022 and 2026 Olympics.
- A salary cap freeze – the 50/50 revenue share continues with a complicated formula involving all kinds of calculations. The simple math is that the salary cap will remain at $81.5 million until hockey revenues return to $4.8 billion.
- The players are giving up their final paychecks from the 2019-2020 season as part of the revenue shortfall.
- Playoff shares for the upcoming tournament have doubled.
- Players are able to opt-out of the NHL return for any reason, without penalty… that’s a biggie.
Things will be ramping up in the next few days and we are only 24 days away from some actual hockey! Keep your fingers crossed…
SlapShot Radio’s special “Return to Play” season begins Monday as Zack, Brent and I will be covering the return of the NHL all the way through the awarding of the Cup and the NHL Draft. The best hour of hockey talk on the longest running hockey show in the southeast … Join us Mondays at 7pm on 102.5 the Game.
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