NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his company have officially opted to honour the new Collective Bargaining Agreement earlier agreed upon this past July, prior to the start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After weeks of deliberation as to if the league would go back on its decision to pay it players the agreed upon amount, news broke late Monday evening that the logistics surrounding financials which had earlier been set in place would remain.
The NHL held an Executive Committee call Monday – a regular occurrence over the past number of months. This meeting saw a number of NHL owners, general managers and team representatives on board, in discussion surrounding the return to play structure for the 2020-21 season.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the owners on the call Monday agreed leave the financial aspect untouched moving forward, essentially agreeing to the Memorandum of Understanding which had been set and signed in the summer. Just one day prior, the NHL Players’ Association had reportedly put together a proposal for the owners that would have seen a higher percentage of ‘deferred monies’ with zero change to escrow – which was a key piece for the owners.
The attention has since turned to strategizing various aspects of the actual 2020-21 season, as opposed to the financial dissonance. Both the league and the PA have begun focusing on a January 13, 2021 start date, leaving just 36 days until opening night. The schedule is believed to be of the 56-game variety, with four, re-aligned divisions set for competition – including that of an all-Canada division.
Not yet set in stone, that date does allow teams to begin hosting skating sessions and practices in advance of the opening of formal training camps in the coming weeks. The NHL is not expected to host exhibition games prior to the start of this season. Some tweaks will still be needed in order to sort out the schedule and some critical dates, but pending the NHL’s Board of Governors approval by way of two-third vote, the 2020-21 season is shaping up rather nicely.
Other concerns such as COVID-19 testing, travel arrangements, family and support members, opt-out options, playoffs and issues surrounding training camps in cities such as Winnipeg, that have gathering restrictions in place. Other teams currently affected by this include San Jose, Arizona and Montreal. The hope is that these discussions are voted upon by the end of the week, giving teams and players enough time to begin preparing for the coming year of hockey.