The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have reportedly reached an agreement on resuming the 2019-20 season later this year.
It has been reported that the season would resume in Edmonton and Toronto and labor peace has also been secured.
The pandemic-hit season breathed fresh air after the League and the union announced that a tentative deal has been reached.
Return to Play Protocol, Memorandum of Understanding on a four-year extension are a few of the items discussed and finalized in the deal. However, the NHL Board of Governors, NHLPA Executive Board, and Full Membership must ratify the documents in three separate votes. Once ratified, training can commence from July 14. The 24 teams would then travel to the two hub cities on July 26 and the season to commence from Aug 1. The two hub cities are reportedly Edmonton and Toronto, however, no official communication has been made so far. The League is monitoring the conditions of possible COVID19 spike to determine the host cities for Conference and Stanley Cup Finals.
The proposed CBA is going to bring 14 consecutive years of harmony between NHL and NHLPA. The details of CBA has not been made public on Monday. However, it is believed that Salary Cap, Escrow Payments from Players to Owners, and Olympic Participation remained a key part of the discussions. Escrow guarantees a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues and remained an issue for the players before the pandemic began. It is also observed that participating in Olympic has been a criterion for the players and the NHL is yet to negotiate with the International Olympic Committee. It skipped the 2018 Winter Games though it participated five straight times between 1998 to 2014.
The 24 team format was already announced in May.
The NHL has announced heavy safety measures for the resumption. It has been told that no more than 52 personnel are allowed in the hub city for the teams. There cannot be more than 31 players. Everyone would be under the bubble and everyone needs to go through COVID19 testing every day. The games would be played without the fans in the stadium. The league also clarified that one or two positive would not derail the momentum of the season though. Everyone in the team would be inside the bubble unless there is some emergency. The safety measures for the training camps have also been announced. Also, anyone who is returning back to the bubble needs to be under mandatory 4-day quarantine with daily testing.
The league has also clarified that it would encourage physical distancing but the players are not required to wear masks while on ice or when exercising. The same goes for the coaching staff behind the bench and for the off-ice officials.
However, the mask is mandatory for any individual in a bubble who is not in the hotel room.
The NHL and NHLPA also have the right to delay, postpone, move or cancel the game in the event of a risk to the health or safety of a player.
Vancouver, Las Vegas, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis/St. Paul was also considered for the hubs. Los Angeles was one of the most preferred destinations because of the large hotel complexes which can be easily turned to bubble. However, the huge COVID19 spike there changed the mind of the organizers.
There is no mention of the steps for an uncontrolled outbreak of the COVID19 however. More details are awaited when the deal is finally revealed to the public.