There were some tense moments and some unreported financial caveats which will undoubtedly leak over the coming days and weeks, but the NHLPA general membership and the NHL Board of Governors have officially approved the final agreements of the Phase 3/4 Return to Play and the four-year CBA extension.
Sportsnet scribe and personality Elliotte Friedman was the first to deliver the news, via Twitter.
The NHLPA membership had until 6 p.m. EST to vote. Most considered the vote a done deal, but there was some discussion amongst players about potential delays to next season and resulting salary cap deductions.
On Monday, the NHLPA negotiators, including chief Donald Fehr and the NHL put the finishing touches on the agreement. Initially, the new CBA was reportedly a six-year deal, subsequent reports listed it as a four-year extension. The deal runs through 2026.
The $81.5 million salary cap will remain flat until hockey-related revenues reach $4.8 billion. Players have a severe 20% escrow next season, which will slightly decline to 14-18%, then slowly deescalate to only six-percent.
As part of the lower escrow payments at the end of the CBA, the salary cap calculation method will change. No longer will the cap be based on the most immediately completed season and a projection for the coming season, but it will be based on financial counts of the two seasons prior.
Also, as part of the agreement, players now have three days to opt-out of the NHL Return to Play, without penalty or prejudice. If a player were to decide against returning, the player is still eligible for his share of playoff bonuses, which are $20,000 for the Qualifying Round and $240,000 for the Stanley Cup winners.
Phase 3 training camps begin on Monday, July 13. Teams may have 30 skaters and unlimited goalies in camp but will take only 31 players to their NHL hub city. Teams may take only 52 people into the hub. Families will be able to visit and stay in the same hotel room in the conference finals, which will take place in Edmonton.
As part of the announcement, what has been known for a week also became official. Eastern Conference Teams will report to the Toronto hub and Western Conference teams will report to Edmonton.
UPDATE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement:
Statement from Commissioner Gary Bettman. pic.twitter.com/pRto4Ua17A
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 10, 2020