NHL general managers met via Zoom call Friday afternoon. It was the first formal meeting for the general managers since March 2-4 in Boca Raton, Florida, though the NHL held regular video meetings regarding its Return to Play plans after the 2019-20 season was paused March 12.
Friday’s meeting, which lasted nearly two hours, covered a wide range of topics, including the start of the 2020-21 season, AHL and player development, Seattle expansion, the draft lottery and World Juniors.
NHL GMs meeting starts at noon ET. Some of the items tabled:
_ 2020-21 season, possible timing and different format/scenarios
_ AHL and player development
_ Seattle expansion update
_ Draft lottery
_ Speaking Period prior to free agency (dropped in new CBA)
_ World juniors
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 23, 2020
The GMs didn’t get any hard answers from the league on the call today regarding the 20-21 season. So many different factors still at play. And the joint committee with NHLPA hasn’t met yet.
NHL and its GMs finished their meeting last hour. Things to know: no certainty about starting date/format for the 2020-21 season. Too many unknowns (border, etc.) to commit to anything, although conversations with NHLPA Return to Play Committee should begin in next while (1/x)…
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 23, 2020
On start of next season
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said “We are evaluating a lot of possibilities and gathering a lot of data and we are going to take the time we have to make the best decisions possible,” Daly told Pierre Lebrun. In other words, there hasn’t been much movement here.
Jan. 1 remains the “target date,” as the NHL indicated yesterday. But, again, no guarantees.
The NHLPA is finalizing its Return to Play Committee; the players on it will be submitted to its Executive Board sometime next week for approval. It won’t be long afterwards that it engages with the NHL.
“There is kind of an agreement that the seven teams that did not participate in Return to Play should get some extra time in training camp,” Daly said. “None of the details are nailed down, but we certainly talked through what we talked about with the Players’ Association and what the open issues were.”
Length of next season
There were multiple reports on Friday that the NBA informed its Board of Governors it is targeting either Dec. 22 or Dec. 25 as the start of the 2020–21 season, with 72 games to be played. Reports are the NHL is still planning for a full season.
The later the NHL reg-season begins, the more likely we’ll see a reduced schedule. Many options have been outlined, but as mentioned, the League’s goal is to get as many games into its 2020-21 season as it can. I suspect we’re still a few weeks, at least, from any decision. (2/2)
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) October 23, 2020
The next 2-4 weeks should be pretty telling in terms of the NHL’s 2020-21 season. As of now, there is no timetable for making any decisions on start dates/format. But on/around Jan. 1 is still a target, one that could be reinforced with the NBA looking to begin Dec. 22.
In a perfect world, the NHL would do something similar — playing as close to 82 games as possible, finishing before the Summer Olympics, returning to its “normal” schedule for 2021–22.
On the draft lottery discussion with GMs, Daly said: “We explained how we got to what we have and why.” And the league asked GMs to let them know if they believed changes were appropriate. Teams are being asked to send in ideas if they choose to do so.
- As for the start of next season, the Toronto’s Star’s Mark Zwolinski reported two weeks ago that the league was in discussions about dropping the puck outdoors in beautiful Lake Louise, Alta. That won’t happen — one of the reasons is that sponsorship opportunities are limited in a federal park — but the idea remains.
- Seattle update. All is good there. Expansion team remains on target with everything.
- There was a discussion of maybe bringing back a 2-3 week UFA speaking period (NHLPA has a say in that)
By Jon Sorensen