Will the NHLPA give a unanimous thumbs up on whatever proposal they’re given from the NHL Return To Play Committee, and will that decision come within the next seven to ten days as reported by many news outlets Tuesday?
“I wouldn’t be so sure that happens, and it’s not necessarily gonna be ‘Game On’ for the players,” an NHL agent told Boston Hockey Now early Tuesday evening. “I’m not saying the return doesn’t happen – because my gut says it does – but it won’t be as easy as ‘Here’s the proposal’ and they automatically sign off on it.”
“There are plenty of players who still share serious enough concerns like safety and being away from their families for potentially two months. They’ll figure out the hockey stuff, but testing and family are huge sticking points.”
According to the player agent, unless that proposal is presented by Friday, then things could take longer than some are projecting.
“Not happening that fast unless the players are able to start reviewing it by the weekend,” the source said. “This is why there’s so much media buzz right now. The league is doing their best to get this done and in front of the players’ eyes ASAP. I give props to the Return committee though, they are doing their due diligence and know this thing has to make sense for as many guys as possible. That being said, they’re up against the gun now.”
The latest reports have the 24-team playoff format with a round-robin and then play-in series to get down to the normal 16 as the centerpiece of the committee’s proposal. There are still some teams that are not happy with the fact that a team like the Montreal Canadiens, who were sellers at the NHL trade deadline back on February 24, would have a chance to win the Stanley Cup, but these items are trivial when it comes to safety and family.
Another critical item is logistics, and that came into question Tuesday when the United States and Canada agreed to keep the Canadian-American border shut for another month. However, early Tuesday evening, the TSN Insiders said that shouldn’t be an issue for NHL players when they hopefully start to filter back to their respective NHL cities for phase 2 of the NHL return to play process in the next week to two weeks. Even if they cross the borders though, as reported here Tuesday, their practice facility Warrior Arena and all Massachusetts rinks might not yet be open for business.