NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 11, 2020
The NHL and NHLPA ratify the return-to-play plan and the CBA extension, two players opt-out, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: The league and the NHLPA yesterday ratified the return-to-play plan and the extension to the collective bargaining agreement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHLPA vote wasn’t close. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports 79 percent of the players were in favor (502 to 135). So much for suggestions that a majority wouldn’t approve the plan.
The 24-team playoff tournament will begin on Aug. 1 in Edmonton and Toronto. Training camps will open in each team’s local markets on Monday, July 13.
Critical dates for the tournament and the off-season are as follows:
July 13 – Training camp begins
July 26 – Teams arrive in hub cities
July 28-30 – Exhibition games
August 1 – Best-of-five qualifying round begins
August 10* – Phase 2 of the draft lottery
August 11 – First round of the playoffs begins (all playoff rounds are best-of-seven)
August 25* – Second round of the playoffs begins
September 8* – Conference Finals begins
September 22* – Stanley Cup Final begins
October 4* – Last possible date for playoffs
Oct. 9 – 10* – NHL Draft
*Subject to change
The league has released the tournament schedule. The Eastern Conference qualifier kicks off with the New York Rangers vs the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers vs the New York Islanders, and the Montreal Canadiens vs the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Western Conference opens with the Chicago Blackhawks vs the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets vs the Calgary Flames. Broadcast times TBA.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the players will have until 5 pm ET Monday, July 13 to opt-out of Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan for any reason without penalty. They must do so in writing to the NHLPA and NHL Central Registry.
CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic has exercised his right to opt-out, citing the health of his young daughter.
TSN’S Rick Dhaliwal reports Vancouver Canucks winger Sven Baertschi has also opted out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said, we shouldn’t judge any player who decides not to participate. These are trying times and we should respect their decisions.
NHL.COM: The main details of the CBA extension include:
The salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for 2020-21 and increasing incrementally in the following years if hockey-related revenue reaches certain thresholds,
Escrow deductions from players salaries will be capped at 20 percent for 2020-21, gradually dropping to 6 percent for each of the final three seasons of the agreement,
A year will be added to the CBA (to 2026-27) if the players’ escrow debt for this season exceeds $125 million but is less than $250 million,
Players defer 10 percent of their salaries (including signing bonuses) for 2020-21, which will be repaid in equal installments over three seasons beginning in 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s my understanding this will not reduce a team’s salary-cap hit for next season. It’s a reduction in actual salary, not the cap hit.
The one-week interview period for unrestricted free agents has been permanently eliminated,
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, back to the old frenzy of general managers negotiating with player agents starting at noon ET on the opening day of the free-agent market.
All no-trade and no-movement clauses will carry with the player if he agrees to waive it to be traded. Previously, those clauses became inactive once a player agreed to waive it and was moved.
Teams won’t carry a cap charge for a player who signs a 35-and-older contract and subsequently retires before that contract expires.
Teams will no longer include conditions in trades involving the signing of the traded player to a new contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, no conditional draft picks included in the deal. It’s also still to be determined how that might affect conditional trades made before this season’s schedule was interrupted by COVID-19.
Most of the main points were previously reported and duly noted on this site. You can get the full details on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the CBA extension by following this link. There are, however, several other interesting tidbits:
Teams no longer need to wait until after the trade deadline to re-sign a player to an eight-year contract extension.
Qualifying offers for restricted free agents are no longer equal to the final year’s salary. It will instead be based on the average annual value of the contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For example, if the player’s AAV was $5 million but the final year of the contract paid him $7.5 million in actual salary, the team only has to tender a QO of $5 million.
Teams can begin to sign restricted free agents and draft picks to contracts for 2020-21 starting Monday, July 13. They can also extend players who are on contracts that expire after the end of the 2020-21 season.
SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports teams that incur a performance bonus overage can distribute that penalty over the next two seasons.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Craig Custance reports of a significant change to salary arbitration. Once an arbitration hearing begins, a settlement is not allowed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In previous years, teams and players could settle following the hearing and before the arbiter reached his decision. This change should encourage both sides to hammer out an agreement before the hearing starts.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the MOU contains a paragraph indicating the NHL has the power to pro-rate or cancel salaries outright if forced to cease or reduce operations from conditions arising from a state of war or other causes beyond the league’s control.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli believes it’s likely not the league’s intention to use that clause. Nevertheless, it could go into effect if it is forced to reduce next season’s planned 82-games schedule. Something to keep in mind if that should come to pass given the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.