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NHL Return

Tentative Agreement! NHL-NHLPA Reach CBA Deal and Return Protocols

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The NHL announced late Monday afternoon that the league and the NHLPA tentatively agreed to the return to play plan and a four-year CBA extension, which will ensure labor peace through 2024. The NHL announcement was made via press release at 5:45 p.m. on Monday.

Now the NHL Board of Governors will vote on the plans, as will the NHLPA. Fierce opposition is not expected.

The deal adds four years to the current CBA, which is less than the expected six years. The heavy monetary restrictions, including a flat salary cap until hockey-related revenues return to at least $4.8 billion placed, for the next three to four seasons offered little incentive for the players to accept a longer deal.

By the end of the CBA extension, the players should be caught up in repaying the owners’ lost hockey revenues from the COVID-19 season pause and playoffs held without fans in attendance.

The Memorandum of Agreement also includes the official start dates for training camp and the next phases. Teams will begin Phase 3 training camps on July 13. The Pittsburgh Penguins will continue to hold their workouts and camp at the UPMC Lemieux Complex in Butler County, which has maintained a very low level of coronavirus infections.

On July 26, teams will report to their hub cities. The Eastern Conference teams, including the Penguins, will most likely report to the quarantined bubble city in Toronto. The Western Conference teams will likely report to the bubble city in Edmonton.

Phase 3 and 4 protocols are detailed here.

Players will be tested daily during Phase 4, including a self-check of their temperature two hours before arriving at the arena and once they arrive at the arena. Players who test positive will be isolated for 10 days and must be symptom-free for three days before returning. Asymptomatic players who yield positive tests will also be isolated until they test negative twice in a 48-hour window or for 10 days.

Teams may have 30 skaters and unlimited goalies during the Phase 3 training camp, but may only bring 31 players to the bubble city.

The Qualifying Round will begin on Aug. 1. The Pittsburgh Penguins (5th seed) will face the Montreal Canadiens (12th seed). Per the protocols agreed to on Sunday night, players will undergo medical examinations before play begins. Players, such as diabetic Montreal forward Max Domi, who have underlying medical conditions that could make them more susceptible to severe effects from a COVID-19 infection, could be ruled ineligible for play.

Per the 24-team NHL Return to Play Plan agreed to in May, each round of the NHL playoffs will be reseeded. The Penguins would play the fourth seed in Round One if they beat Montreal in the five-game playoff series. Montreal would face the highest-seeded team because Montreal is the lowest-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.

The eight Qualifying Round losers will be placed into a draft lottery and have a 1/8 chance at the top overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. That lottery will be held after the Qualifying Round.

Once the deal is ratified, players will have three days to opt out of the NHL return.

From the NHL press release:

“The tentative agreement is now subject to approval by the NHL’s Board of Governors, as well as the NHLPA’s Executive Board followed by the full NHLPA membership. The respective review and approval processes will take place over the next few days, and there will be no further comment until those processes are completed.”

UPDATE: According to TSN Insider, Pierre LeBrun, Olympic participation for 2022 and 2026 has been confirmed. We’ll continue to update the story as additional details are available.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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