With just a week until Christmas, a potential Christmas miracle started to take shape as reports percolated through the NHL and social media on Friday night that the NHL and NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement on an NHL Return and 56-game 2021 season.
“We have a tentative Agreement with the Players’ Association on plans for the 2020/21 NHL Season,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told TSN Insider Pierre Lebrun. “The agreement is subject to approval by both of our respective constituencies.’‘
According to Lebrun and fellow TSN Insider Frank Seravalli, as well as Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the agreement still needed to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors and the PA. The latter was scheduled to hold a vote on Friday night at 8 PM ET and the former “sometime this weekend” according to Lebrun. If, as expected, both parties gave unanimous yays, training camp for the seven teams that didn’t make the 2020 NHL Return to play and Stanley Cup playoffs would begin training camp on December 30. The remaining 24 clubs would then report to their respective camps on January 3, with January 13 still set as the target date.
The 7 teams who did not make 24-team playoff can open camp on Dec. 30.
All dates subject to change. Scheduling not finalized.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 19, 2020
Throughout the day on Friday, numerous NHL sources confirmed to Boston Hockey Now that if the league was still unable to resolve the COVID issues north of the border with Canadian federal and provincial authorities on whether they can play in Canada, the Canadian teams would either be moved to the United States and play out of adopted homes there or play in temporary hubs in Canada. On Friday night, one of those sources told BHN that they were now leaning on a temporary hub in Edmonton where the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final took place this past summer.
Friedman tweeted other key details of the NHL Return format that was tentatively agreed upon:
-No proration of salaries; no exhibition games; non-playoff teams get a few extra days of camp
-4-6 player taxi squad; teams have option to “toll” (carry-over) contracts of player opts out
-Playoffs will be top four in each division — each division produces a champion for the Stanley Cup Semifinal
So as North America is being ravaged by COVID still, the NHL and NHLPA have given hockey fans a glimmer of hope that we could very well hear the words ‘Game On!’ by the end of the weekend. Like in the classic comedy Wayne’s World, there will surely be cars with a license plate reading COVID, forcing teams to temporarily bring their nets to the side of the road, but just the idea that we may hear those words ‘Game On’ and have the chance to bring the nets back out for more hockey hopefully until early July is perfect right about now!