As we previously reported, the NHL’s general managers held a video call with league officials, including commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, at noon on Friday. It’s been reported that GM’s were advised not to comment publicly on the the topics discussed in Friday’s call, however, a few additional details are beginning to emerge.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, A shorter schedule and the possibility of starting the season in a limited number of “hub cities” was discussed, but would require authorization from the NHL and the NHLPA. These would not be “bubbles” like Edmonton and Toronto this past postseason. Players and staff would not be segregated from society, but rather would be expected to follow yet-to-be negotiated protocols as, say, MLB players during their 2020 season.
Brooks also said groups of teams would be sent to designated hub cities to compete for two-to-three weeks, and then shuttle home for a week or so of practice before their next assignment. The idea would be to play a portion of the schedule under this format before evolving to a more typical schedule once (or if) fans are permitted in a substantial number of NHL arenas.
Remember, how the season starts may not necessarily resemble how the season ends.
As we also reported last week, geographical re-alignment is also possible, including the creation of a Canadian Division, thus negating the need to cross the US-Canadian border until later in the year (postseason).
According to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, don’t expect a season much longer than 56 games. And don’t expect players to earn much more than 54% of their total salaries, with increased escrow, already-agreed-to discounts, and likely more back-and-forth negotiations before play is set to resume sometime in January.
Again, the NHL will need to conclude the 2020-21 season by July, just prior to the start of the Olympics. NBC, who covers both the NHL and the Olympics, will need to conclude hockey coverage and to transition to the Olympic Games at that time. NBC’s NHL deal will also expire at that time.
Training camps are currently scheduled to begin in mid-December, and could last 14 days. Camps will include a maximum of 35 players (skaters plus goaltenders).
A nine-day conditioning camp also including up to 35 players (skaters and goaltenders) for draft selections, entry-level players and tryouts, may be scheduled prior to camp. Players participating in conditioning camp must also be invited to the main camp. Look at this as a replacement for the traditional development camp, which did not take place this year.
The seven clubs that did not make the 24-team summer tournament, and thus have not been on the ice since the mid-March pause of the 2019-20 season, will be granted an additional week-to-10 days of camp.
The plan is to play three or four exhibition games per team.
Team practice facilities are currently allowed to be open under Phase 2 regulations. The NHLPA is asking that up to 12 players be permitted on the ice at the same time.
More to come.
By Jon Sorensen