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Last parts of CBA/Return to Play still debated

作者:admin 2020-07-05

While many key details of the new NHL collective bargaining agreement and the intertwined Return To Play plan have been leaked the past few days, the actual deal remains unsigned.

The process is not unusual with all the issues at stake in a complicated pact that could — hopefully — mean labour peace until the summer of 2026 when COVID-19 is far in the rear-view mirror. It also must go before the entire players association for a vote in the next couple of days, with RTP issues likely causing some members concern.

There has been a Covid outbreak among the St. Louis Blues among other positive tests by the NHL, while athletes in other sports are also falling ill. There is already language for players to opt out of RTP.

But the talks continue, with the most important salary tenets in place. A source told Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic that the proposal to keep the cap at $81.5 million US for the two years could change in 2022-23, if revenues reach $4.8 billion. Then, a new cap formula will be introduced that factors in hockey-related revenues from two seasons prior that should reverse the expected losses in player salary through escrow this season and next.

For the RTP itself, featuring two 12-team playoff hubs in Edmonton and Toronto, it’s looking like the planned opening of training camps in each club’s home base has moved from this Friday until July 13. Another two weeks later on July 26 would see teams report to the hubs for “cohort quarantines” where players and staff of up to 50 members would be secluded in a hotel/practice rink/main rink ‘bubble’.

Aug. 1 is the tentative date to start the tournament, with the Stanley Cup to be awarded in early October. The entry draft would be shortly after, its order to be determined Aug. 10, according to TSN when the best-of-five qualifying round is complete and the eight eliminated ‘placeholder’ teams find out in the second phase of the lottery which one gets a shot at projected top pick Alexis Lafreniere.

If the playoffs are completed on schedule, free agent shopping day would be Nov. 1 and the 2020-21 season would commence a few weeks later, intended to be the normal 82 games that would likely stretch into July of 2021.

lhornby@postmedia.com     

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