Pandemic impacting NHL Training Camp for Prized Prospects
Details of tentative CBA extension, more details on the return-to-play plan, an update on the league’s COVID-19 testing, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
KEY DETAILS FROM TENTATIVE CBA EXTENSION
NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA yesterday reached an agreement in principle on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a four-year extension to the collective bargaining agreement. The extension, as well as the protocols for Phases 3 and 4 of the return-to-play plan, are subject to ratification by the league board of governors and the PA membership later this week.
Among the key details of the tentative CBA extension (as per TSN):
The agreement would expire on Sept. 15, 2026. It can be extended to 2027 if the escrow debts owed to the NHL team owners for 2019-20 exceed $125 million by the end of the deal,
The salary cap will be frozen at $81.5 million for 2020-21 and remain there until league revenue returns to $4.8 billion. After that, the cap will be determined by a new formula relying on actual hockey-related revenue (HRR) from two years ago and projected HRR for the immediately prior season,
An escrow cap will be implemented, with the players paying no more than 20 percent in 2020-21, 14 to 18 percent in 2021-22, 10 percent in 2022-23, and six percent annually for the final three seasons of the deal,
The players will defer 10 percent of their salary and signing bonuses for 2020-21, which will be returned to them in equal installments over each of the final three seasons of the agreement,
All front-loaded contracts will be limited to less than 50 percent variability between the highest and lowest compensation years,
No limits on signing bonuses,
The NHL will participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the 2026 Milan Olympic pending negotiations with the IOC and IIHF,
The minimum salary will be $700k in 2020-21, rising to $750K for the next three seasons, $775K for 2024-25, and $800k in 2025-26.
Some notable new ones include:
The salary cap recapture penalty will not exceed the player’s normal salary-cap hit, but it will take longer to pay it back.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Call this the Shea Weber rule. As TSN’s Frank Seravalli explained, if Weber retired before his contract expired in 2025-26, the Nashville Predators would’ve been tagged with a cap recapture of over $24 million for that season because of the way Weber’s actual salary was structured. Now, they’ll face a cap recapture penalty of $7.86 million, but it will take them three additional seasons to pay that back.
Players on contracts expiring after 2020-21 are eligible to sign contract extensions beginning in 2021-22 three days following the ratification of the CBA extension,
Players with expiring contracts on teams not participating in the upcoming playoff tournament and those who opt-out of the tournament are eligible to sign contracts outside North America. However, those who opt-out won’t be permitted to return for the 2020-21 NHL season. Those on the non-playoff clubs that sign outside North America would be eligible to return if offered a new contract,
Prospect players can sign entry-level contracts but will not be eligible to play in the upcoming playoff tournament. They will be eligible to join their teams next season and will be considered one year closer to free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov, and New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin won’t be suiting up for their respective clubs in the playoff tournament.
NHL & NHLPA RELEASES PHASE 3 AND 4 RETURN-TO-PLAY DETAILS
NHL.COM: The league and the PA also released answers to key questions regarding the protocols for Phases 3 and 4 of their tentative return-to-play plan. As with the CBA extension, this plan is subject to ratification from the board of governors and PA membership.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several of the key points were noted in yesterday’s morning coffee headlines.
THE NATIONAL POST: Michael Traikos reports Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases physician based in Mississauga, was impressed with the NHL’s 47-page protocol list, especially those covering life in the two host cities of Edmonton and Toronto. “This plan could work. It is certainly a possibility,” he said. Chakrabarti doesn’t believe there’s any danger of the players spreading COVID-19 in those host cities. Once players are in the bubble there’s no getting out, plus there’s less chance of the virus getting in and infecting the players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No system is perfect and there’s always a risk of the coronavirus breaching that bubble. Nevertheless, the odds of that happening are considerably reduced because of the strict protocols for Phase 4.
Getting to Phase 4, however, will be a challenge. While the teams participating in the tournament will be under stricter protocols in Phase 3 than they currently are, they will still be traveling to and from their homes daily and interacting with members of the public, putting them at risk of contracting the virus. Speaking of which…
NHL.COM: The league provided their latest COVID-19 testing update, indicating nine more players have tested positive during Phase 2. Of over 2,900 tests of 396 players, 23 came back positive. That’s an increase of eight positives tests from players skating in Phase 2 protocols and one positive from a player outside that protocol. Those players have been in self-isolation and are following Health Canada and CDC guidelines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3, which starts on July 13, will determine if the playoff tournament takes place. A big spike in tests over the next three weeks could postpone, delay, or cancel Phase 4.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Kevin Hayes is this season’s winner of the Gene Hart Memorial Award.
SPORTSNET: It’s unlikely Calgary Flames defenseman Juuso Valimaki will participate in the playoff tournament. He missed the entire season to a knee injury, but playing in the tournament would make him eligible for next year’s expansion draft.
TORONTO SUN: Former NHL player Eddie Shack has been in and out of hospital battling cancer for the past eight months.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shack is among the most popular personalities in hockey. I met him as a kid during the 1970s when he was doing promotional work for The Pop Shoppe and he couldn’t have been nicer. Many years later, he signed a stick for me at an NHL Oldtimers Game in Calgary. Here’s hoping “The Entertainer” pulls through.