NHL and NHLPA officially ratify 2020 return-to-play plan and new CBA

On Friday, the NHL finalized changes to the return-to-play plan and extended the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) through September 2026, according to multiple reports. This comes one week after the league delayed the start of Phase 3, official training camp, due to negotiations between the league and player’s union regarding player safety in the restart plan.

Training camp will open Monday, July 13 in 24 cities as the playoff teams prepare to head into game action taking place in hub cities. 

On July 26, teams will travel from their home markets to one of the hub cities, either Toronto or Edmonton. The 12 Western Conference teams are headed to Edmonton to play at Rogers Arena, home of the Oilers, while the East will play their games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs play, to start. No fans will be present at games.

This is the first time since 1925 the entirety of the playoffs will be played in Canada.

Players can decide, without penalty that they do not want to take part and they do not need to give their team a reason behind the choice, as long as they do it by 5 p.m. ET on Monday.

The league plans to conclude the playoffs in at most 62 days and have discussed a busy television schedule that will give hockey fans multiple games to watch per game day to start. The playoffs are expected to begin on August 1 and the league plans for a team to be hoisting the Stanley Cup by the first week in October.

The agreements included the players committing to the “bubble” life and leaving their families for up to six weeks. The league expects to be able to carry out the season safely by limiting exposure, creating new health protocols, testing players and selected two hub cities that have a relatively good control over the coronavirus.

Between June 8 and July 6, 35 players tested positive for COVID-19.

The players also agreed to an altered collective agreement where they’ll defer 10% of next year’s salary. The cap limit will remain at $81.5 million until things return to normal.

League minimum salary, the amount available to be paid on entry-level contracts and how much escrow can be deducted from future checks all rose. Players will also likely be able to participate in the 2022 and 2026 Olympics. 

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