NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2020
Updates on the return-to-play and CBA extension talks, Edmonton could host Stanley Cup Final and the latest on Oskar Lindblom and Mike Ribeiro in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
LATEST ON THE NHL RETURN-TO-PLAY & CBA EXTENSION TALKS
TSN: Bob McKenzie last night reported the NHL and NHL Players Association continue to work toward finalizing a return-to-play plan and an extension to the collective bargaining agreement. A joint announcement by the two sides could come soon, though it will require ratification by the league board of governors and the PA membership, with the latter vote likely to take two or three days. McKenzie anticipates it could be approved by early next week.
A potential timeline could look like this:
July 13 – Phase 3 (training camp) opens,
July 26 – Approximate travel date for teams to head to their respective hub cities (Edmonton or Toronto),
Aug. 1 – Phase 4 begins with the best-of-five qualifying round,
Aug. 10 – Approximate date for the second and final phase of the NHL Draft Lottery to determine the club that gets the first-overall pick,
Early October – Stanley Cup awarded,
Mid-October – 2020 NHL Draft is held, and
Nov. 1 – The first business day of 2020-21 begins as the free-agent market opens.
McKenzie also reported it sounds like Edmonton will host the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final, likely because of public health/safety/numbers.
TVA SPORTS: Louis Jean reports the initial plan to have all 24 teams play two exhibition games could be reduced to one game apiece.
SPORTSNET: Eric Engels reports it sounds like families won’t be allowed with players in the hub cities, though it’s not yet official.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re getting closer to a deal when we see a potential timeline for completing the season. The time crunch to begin Phase 4 explains the reduction in the exhibition games.
Barring families from the host-city bubbles will be challenging for the players. It won’t be so bad for those on teams eliminated from the qualifying round as they could be apart from their loved ones for between one-two weeks, while those eliminated from the first round of the playoffs could be apart from their families for between three-four weeks.
The further a club advances, however, the longer the separation. Some players whose spouses/partners have health conditions (pregnancy, illness, etc) could opt-out of the tournament.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reports a source claims the NHL and NHLPA have essentially agreed to a memorandum of understanding on all issues about the return-to-play plan and an extension to the collective bargaining agreement.
Campbell focuses on the CBA, claiming the deal would be extended by three years to the end of 2024-25. The framework of the extension would be as follows:
The salary cap would be frozen at $81.5 million for 2020-21 and 2021-22, rising to $82.5 million in 2022-23 and $83.5 million in 2023-24. For the first time since 2005-06, the cap will be delinked from league revenue, though it could re-link in 2024-25,
An escrow cap will be implemented for 2020-21 to a maximum of 20 percent regardless of revenue, though it could end up being less. There will also be a 10 percent deferral of salary and signing bonuses for each player for ’20-’21, which will be returned to them in equal installments (subject to the escrow) over the final three years of the extension. “So in reality, players will have 30 percent deducted from their pay for next season”, writes Campbell.
The escrow cap for 2021-22 would be up to 18 percent, dropping to 12 percent in 2022-23, and nine percent by 2023-24,
Participation in the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics is part of the deal, and
Any player can opt-out of the playoff tournament for any reason without penalty.
Because revenues are split 50-50 between the owners and players, Campbell points out the players could be looking at being $400 million in arrears for this season and potentially as high as $1 billion after next season. If all goes well, the players could pay that all back within three years if league revenue increase with a new US TV deal and a new franchise in Seattle.
Campbell believes the players and NHLPA director Donald Fehr probably hate this deal, but it’s the best they can get under the circumstance. If they reject it, next season’s cap could plummet to $66 million while escrow clawbacks could be 55 and 75 percent, setting the stage for what Campbell calls “the mother of all lockouts” when the current agreement expires in 2022. It would hurt the owners in the short term but they’re in a better position to ride this out over the long term.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports amnesty buyouts will not be part of the CBA extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not a great deal for the players, and in normal circumstances, they wouldn’t take it. They could still vote to reject it, but as Campbell points out, it would lead to potential labor strife during a period when the league will be coping with the economic fallout from COVID-19.
That explains why the extension could be only three years, the league’s shift toward Olympic participation, and other reported lifestyle benefits (such as increased post-retirement health care benefits, mortgage/rental reimbursements for traded or reassigned players) for the players. The league had to give the players something to make this bitter pill a little more palatable.
No amnesty buyouts will squeeze those NHL clubs with limited salary cap space. Thirteen clubs have cap payrolls exceeding $70 million for next season. That 10 percent deferral should provide a little relief, but some clubs could still face significant cost-cutting off-season decisions.
This deal would guarantee five years of labor peace, but those economic issues could become the seeds for another work stoppage in 2025.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom completed his chemotherapy treatments for a rare form of bone cancer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lindblom as he works toward continuing his life and NHL career. He won’t be participating in the 24-team playoff tournament with his teammates.
LA PRESSE: Former NHL player Mike Ribeiro said turning 40 recently forced him to change his lifestyle. He’s been sober for months since undergoing therapy earlier this year and is now dedicating his life to his children in Nashville.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ribeiro was heading down a dark path for a while. Good to see he’s turned his life around.