After seemingly weeks of silence from the NHL and NHLPA regarding some outstanding financial obstacles, it appears as if both parties have moved past their differences. According to a late Monday night report from Elliotte Friedman, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed that the economic framework of the newly negotiated collective bargaining agreement will not be altered.
There were several proposals exchanged that ranged from a potential salary cap increase, increasing deferred payments and caps on escrow. Obviously neither side was able to come to a compromise, and they have decided to push ahead to more pressing topics in order to start up the 2020-21 season.
Darren Dreger reported similarly this morning.
There is a working agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA. The economic proposal the NHL made to the NHLPA a few week ago was a stand-alone and isn’t tied to season logistics. This is how both sides move to get the season going.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 8, 2020
The working agreement is the agreement the two sides announced in July. Still a lot of work to get done on this season, but the expectation is the NHL Board of Governors will approve. https://t.co/w9eARPI5Tk— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 8, 2020
Nothing finalized, however, focus in discussions related to NHL training camps has been on 10 day camps with no exhibition games. In the summer, RTP non playoff teams were hoping for a 7 day head-start to 20-21 training camps. 7 days is unlikely at this point.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 8, 2020
This is obviously massive news in terms of having NHL hockey resume just after the New Year, and shows that the NHL and NHLPA are committed to returning. As Dreger and Friedman noted, there are several key protocols still need to be ironed out that include training camp scheduling, player opt-outs, league-wide testing, schedule/playoff format, and temporary divisional re-alignment.
Assuming all of those issues are ironed out without any further delay, the targeted return date is January 13, with training camps opening two weeks prior. The plan is to have non-playoff teams reporting to camp on December 28, while all other teams will open shop on New Year’s Day. A 56-game schedule appears to be the targeted schedule length for both parties, but there aren’t expected to be any exhibition games included with time being of the essence.
Once the NHL and NHLPA come to a formal agreement, all of the above is subject to approval by the NHL board of governors and the NHLPA executive board. Even with tons of work still left to be done, it appears as if we’re well on our way to seeing hockey return to the ice sooner rather than later.