- The NHL and NHLPA has finalized a procedural framework to restart the 2019-2020 season.
- All games will be played in the ‘hub cities’ of Edmonton and Toronto.
- The projected start date for games is currently August 1.
The National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association have reached agreement on a procedural framework to restart the 2019-2020 season. As expected, the 24 team postseason tournament will be played in Edmonton and Toronto. The current timeline has teams arriving in the hub cities on July 26 and games beginning on August 1. Training camps would begin on July 13.
There are a few more hoops to jump through before everything is final–agreement must be reached on a new collective bargaining agreement which must then be approved by the NHLPA Executive Committee. Assuming that happens, the full membership will vote on it and if they ratify the agreement it will go to the NHL Board of Governors for approval.
The new collective bargaining agreement is expected to run through 2025-26 and will keep the salary cap at $81.5 million for at least next season. Escrow will be capped at 20 percent for 2020-21 and decrease each year. Players also will defer 10 percent of their salary next season, and that will be repaid over the final three years of the agreement. On another note, teams players will reportedly be able to participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the 2026 Milan Olympics.
STRONG EMPHASIS ON PLAYER HEALTH AND SAFETY
No surprise that much of the agreement focuses on playing hockey during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams will be allowed to have 30 skaters and unlimited goalies in training camps. At this point there’s not any updated guidance on the roster limit during the restart–assume that it’ll be the same as the NHL regular season roster limit of 18 skaters and 2 goalies though allowing more players wouldn’t be a surprise either. At the very least extra players will likely be kept around in the event of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis elsewhere in the lineup.
There’s also language emphasizing the need to maintain social distancing. Face coverings will be required of all players and personnel entering a team training facility. Players won’t have to wear face coverings on the ice but otherwise they’ll be required for everyone.
Here’s how TSN outlined the testing protocol:
Players and club personnel will be tested 48 hours prior to any individual returning to training facilities and every other day following. Results are expected to be available within 24 hours. If the results are not available in 24 hours, the player or staff member won’t be able to remain in club training facilities until they get a negative test result. There will also be daily temperature and symptom checks for individuals at home and upon entry to the training facility.
If any player tests positive for the coronavirus they will be deemed “unfit to play” and will be treated as a hockey-related injury for all purposes under the CBA.
Players can also opt-out of returning to play without any type of penalty or discipline for doing so. Initially, there was talk of withholding playoff shares from any player who didn’t have a medical reason for doing so but that is no longer the case.
TSN went into extensive detail on the provisions of the new CBA:
…as did Sportsnet:
More details should emerge in the days to come.