The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have settled on a framework for the upcoming season, pending the approval of each side’s executive board and Canadian health officials.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed on Friday night that the two sides have a tentative deal that will include a 56-game schedule for the 2020-21 campaign, with puck drop for the regular season set for Jan. 13.
The NHLPA was to hold a conference call Friday night, while an NHL Board of Governors meeting is scheduled this weekend, where both sides are expected to vote on the agreement. Approval from health officials in the five Canadian provinces that have teams is still needed before the NHL can go ahead with the season.
Training camps are scheduled to open Dec. 31 for the seven non-playoff teams, and Jan. 3 for the other 24.
It’s unclear whether teams would play in their home arenas or in “hub” cities, though an all-divisional schedule is expected.
The NHL was reportedly planning to realign its divisions for the 2020-21 campaign with a seven-team, all-Canadian division that would play domestically in Canada with no cross-border travel. However, reports Thursday night suggested that every Canadian team may have to head south instead to adhere to provincial guidelines around COVID-19.
The league would need approval from health authorities in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia for a Canadian division to work, and it’s reportedly believed to have hit a roadblock.
The tentative NHL/NHLPA agreements calls for no exhibition games and will go straight into the regular season following camp.
Owners and players agreed to a long-term extensive of the collective bargaining agreement before the 2019-20 season resumed, setting the table for financial ramifications of the pandemic. They agreed recently to stick to that deal, which includes players deferring 10 per cent of salaries, a cap on money paid into escrow and a flat $81.5 million cap.
THE CANADIAN PRESS