NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 19, 2020
The NHL and NHLPA reach a tentative agreement for the 2020-21 season. Check out the details in today’s morning coffee headlines.
The agreement requires ratification by the league board of governors and the PA executive board. The latter verbally supported moving ahead with the agreement last night. The board of governors’ vote is expected Sunday or Monday.
Here are the pertinent details:
– It will be a 56-game schedule commencing on Jan. 13. Training camps for last season’s seven non-playoff clubs will commence on Dec. 31. The other 24 teams will begin camp on Jan. 3. There won’t be exhibition games.
– The regular season would tentatively end on May 8. The Stanley Cup playoffs would end by the first week of July.
All dates are subject to change.
– The proposed divisions break down as follows:
Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg,
Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington,
Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Nashville and Tampa Bay,
Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota, San Jose, St. Louis and Vegas.
– Each division will produce four playoff teams. The postseason will be inter-division with each division winner becoming Stanley Cup semifinalists seeded by regular-season points.
– The tentative plan is for every team to play in their home arenas this season instead of playing in hub cities, though the latter remains a possibility.
– A player can opt-out from this season if he or an immediate family member is considered part of a high-risk category. That player will not be paid for this season and his team will have the option of carrying over his contract for one year.
– Rosters will be capped at 23 players with the salary cap at $81.5 million. Players on one-way NHL contracts will not have their salaries prorated. Those in the AHL on two-way contracts will have prorated salaries based on how many games are played in that league, with a 40 percent minimum salary payout.
– Teams will be permitted to carry four-to-six extra players (taxi squad), including a mandatory third goaltender. Those players will practice and travel with the team. For salary cap purposes, those extra players will be treated as AHL call-ups. Players will have to clear waivers to be put on the taxi squad. Players on that squad will be paid an AHL salary if on a two-way contract.
– As part of the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, players will be tested every other day, possibly every day, and will be expected to have minimal outside contact. Charter planes will be used for all travel and health standards at road hotels and restaurants strictly monitored. Players will be confined to the rink and the hotel.
– The fate of the proposed Canadian Division rests with the five health authorities in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. The league and the seven Canadian teams are in ongoing discussions with those provincial and regional authorities.
It’s believed the biggest sticking point is whether NHL players will be subject to intra-provincial travel quarantine restrictions. Failing that, the Canadian teams could play in a hub city like Edmonton or spend the season in the United States.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The proposed agreement is expected to be rubber-stamped by the BoG and the PA executive. We’ll likely learn more details in the coming days. Much will depend, of course, on whether the five provincial health authorities sign off on the plan of an all-Canadian division. Some reports cited sources expressing confidence that agreement will be reached. We’ll find out soon enough.
The fate of the seven Canadian teams will determine most of those aforementioned dates and the divisional realignments. Those could change if those clubs are forced to spend the season playing in the United States.
Understandably, that’s the last option for the league and those clubs, whose players won’t be thrilled about potentially spending at least five months living in hotels away from their families. They also probably wouldn’t be happy about playing in a hub city in Canada but at least they could have the opportunity to travel back to their NHL cities to see their families.
A Canadian team would be guaranteed a spot as a Stanley Cup semifinalist under the proposed playoff format for the season.
It’ll be interesting to see how many players opt-out of this season. Only a handful did so during the 2020 playoffs. Going any entire season without a paycheck will be a strong enticement to suit up.