NHL/NHLPA announce tentative agreements on return-to-play protocol, new CBA

NHL/NHLPA announce tentative agreements on return-to-play protocol, new CBA

NHL/NHLPA announce tentative agreements on return-to-play protocol, new CBA

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have taken a massive step towards resuming the pandemic-hit 2019-20 season later this summer — and securing labour peace for the foreseeable future.

The league and its union announced Monday the two sides have hammered out a tentative deal on the return-to-play protocol as well as a memorandum of understanding on a four-year extension of the current collective bargaining agreement.

The NHL board of governors, the NHLPA’s executive board and full membership must now ratify the documents, which are tied together, in three separate votes. If the proposals get the green light, training camps would begin July 13, with the 24 teams set to resume heading to the league’s two designated hub cities July 26.

Competitive game action would then commence Aug. 1.

Hashed out in the shadow of unprecedented economic conditions brought on by COVID-19 — and viewed as crucial for a resumption of play — the proposed CBA would bring at least 14 consecutive years of NHL-NHLPA harmony after lockouts wiped out the 2004-05 season, and cut the 1994-95 and 2012-13 campaigns to 48 games.

While details of the CBA, which would last through the 2025-26 season, weren’t made public Monday, it’s believed the salary cap, escrow payments from players to owners, and Olympic participation all figure prominently. Escrow, which guarantees a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, was a thorny issue for players before the pandemic significantly impacted the league’s bottom line when the schedule was suspended March 12.

Getting back to the Olympics has also been a priority for players. The NHL, which would still have to negotiate with the International Olympic Committee, skipped the 2018 Winter Games after participating in five straight between 1998 and 2014.

The league has yet to announce the two hubs for its return-to-play plan this summer, but Toronto and Edmonton are believed to be the destinations. The league and players unveiled the 24-team format for a resumption of play in late May.

The plan to resuscitate the season calls for players to be segregated from the general population in tightly-controlled ”bubbles” — games will be played without fans — in hopes of keeping the coronavirus at bay. The NHL, which will test everyone inside the bubble daily, has consistently maintained one or more positive results wouldn’t necessarily derail the restart.

The NHL and the NHLPA outlined extensive health and safety measures for training camps and resumption of play Monday — referred to as Phase 3 and Phase 4, respectively, of its return-to-play plan — in two documents totalling 47 pages.

Teams will be allowed to bring 52 personnel, with no more than 31 players, to its hub. Every person in the bubble will be subject to daily testing, including players, staff, hotel workers, food service employees and bus drivers. Every team member/player inside the bubble will be expected to remain there except in specific extenuating circumstances, including medical attention, the birth of a child or a death in the family.

Anyone returning to the bubble will be subject to a minimum four-day quarantine with daily nasal swab tests for COVID-19.

While the league is encouraging physical distancing at all times, players won’t be required to wear masks when exercising or on the ice. The same goes for coaches behind the bench and off-ice officials. Masks are required to be worn inside the bubble by any individual not in their hotel room.

The NHL and NHLPA have the ability to delay, postpone, move or cancel games in the event there’s a ”risk to player health and safety” and/or a chance that “the integrity of the competition” is in jeopardy, including “an uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19.”

There is not, however, any specifics as to what would constitute ”an uncontrolled outbreak.”

Individuals leaving the bubble without permission may be subject to consequences up to and including removal from Phase 4. Teams could also be hit with steep punishments, including fines and/or loss of draft choices.

Players are allowed to opt out of Phase 3 and Phase 4 without penalty, but have to notify their team this week.

Vancouver, Las Vegas, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis/St. Paul were the other cities originally in the running to be hubs.

The NHL is looking to restart its season with a blueprint that includes eight best-of-five qualifying round series before pivoting to the typical 16-team playoffs. It’s hoped the Stanley Cup, which has been awarded all but twice since 1893, will be handed out sometime in the fall.

Las Vegas was viewed as a hub front-runner because its massive hotel complexes could be more-easily secured in a bubble scenario until a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across large swaths of the United States — the death toll there currently stands at more than 130,000 people — likely made the destination far less appealing.

But despite Monday’s good news, there remain difficult waters to navigate.

The league and NHLPA will not quarantine players during training camp, but instead ask they stay home when not at the rink in hopes isolation and testing will be enough to avoid any outbreaks.

Of the 396 NHLers tested at team facilities between June 8 and July 6 during voluntary workouts as part of Phase 2 protocols, 23 results — in the neighbourhood of six per cent — came back positive. The league said it’s also aware of 12 other positive tests for players not taking part in Phase 2.

The Tampa Bay Lightning closed their practice facility last month after three players and additional staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 24 teams poised to resume play, 18 are located in the U.S., including current virus hot spots like Florida, Texas and Arizona.

Four clubs previously confirmed 10 positive tests in the spring, with five coming from the Ottawa Senators, three from the Colorado Avalanche, and one each from the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020.

___

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

NHL

Just Posted

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Most Read