The NHL and the NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement on a return-to-play plan to restart the 2019-20 season in the Canadian cities of Toronto, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta and also on a memorandum of understanding that extends the current collective bargaining agreement by four years to the fall of 2026.
The 12 Eastern Conference teams, including the Florida Panthers, will travel to Toronto, while the 12 Western Conference teams will be based in Edmonton.
Formal training camps will begin on July 13. The 24 teams will travel to the two hub cities on July 26, and finally, postseason games will begin on August 1. Each team will play two exhibition games. Any player wishing to not take part in the postseason tournament for any reason can do so without penalty. They must notify their team in writing before July 13.
Prior to the start of training camps, ratification votes for the entire return-to-play package will be held by the league’s Board of Governors and the entirety of the NHLPA’s. membership. Three-quarters of owners and a simple majority of the players have to support the agreement for Phase 3 and 4 to proceed.
According to reports, next year’s salary cap will remain flat at $81.5-million, where it will remain until the NHL’s hockey-related revenues reach $4.8 billion, which was the amount projected for this season before it was fist paused and then the rest of the regular season was canceled. The players will defer 10% of their salary next season, with that amount paid back over the course of three seasons beginning in 2022-23. There will be a cap on escrow withholdings each season, starting at 20% in 2020-21 to make up the revenue shortfall for owners, before falling to 6% in the final year of the agreement. A return to the Winter Olympics in 2022 in Beijing, China and 2026 in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy is also in the cards, provided a deal between the league and the International Olympic Committee can be brokered.
I’m not sure how the schedule will work yet. Will the hubs have games on alternate days or will there be both Eastern and Western Conference games on a daily basis. Depending on that, we will either see Game 1 of the Panthers - New York Islanders series on the August 1, which is a Saturday, or on Sunday, August 2.