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The NHL is now aiming for a mid-January start date with a 52 or 56-game schedule, at best, sources confirmed to ESPN.

That NHL's initial target of Jan. 1 became unfeasible, because of necessary time for training camp -- plus extra time promised to the seven teams that did not make this summer's expanded playoff field -- as well as quarantine protocols in some markets. As of Thursday, NHL players have yet to receive any official directive of when they are supposed to report back to their playing cities, and players are currently scattered at their offseason homes, including many still in Europe.

TSN first reported on the mid-January start date.

As of Friday morning, there haven't been any meaningful conversations yet between the NHL and NHLPA about potential schedules, format or protocols. First, the sides must get past a financial stalemate: owners, wanting additional cash flow to kickstart the season, have asked players to tweak their financial arrangement, including deferral of salary beyond the 10% they already agreed to this summer. Players have pushed back on making any changes to their financial arrangement, considering they just signed a new CBA in July. However sources on the players side said the NHLPA would be willing to work with the NHL as long as the owners are willing to give them concessions in return.

Speaking at a Sports Business Journal panel on Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said planning for the 2020-21 season remained a fluid situation.

"That is a work in progress influenced largely by what we're learning from medical experts," Bettman said, referring to a potential Jan. 1 start date. "COVID is going through a second wave, which could be worse than the first wave, and between Thanksgiving and the aftermath and what they think is going to happen for Christmas and the aftermath, we are taking our time and making sure as we look to ways to move forward. We are focused on health and safety and doing the right things."

The NHL is not expected to have a bubble environment for the 2020-21 season, and has shifted its focus to teams playing in home arenas. There would, however, likely be a temporary re-alignment including an all-Canadian division.

At Wednesday's SBJ panel, Bettman addressed the economic differences between the league and players, but insisted the league is not looking to re-negotiate the CBA.

"Under our deal and the one we've had for more than a decade with the players' association, whatever the revenues are, the players only get 50%" Bettman said. "And if we overpay them and they don't pay us back in the short term, they have to pay us back over time. There will be stressors on that system, and we've had discussions about what those stresses are and how they might be dealt with, but we're not trying to say, 'You must do X, Y and Z.' We're trying to look for a way to continue to work together."


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The NHL and NHL Players' Association have cleared their financial hurdles and are pushing forward with planning talks for the 2020-21 season.

The sides are now aiming for a Jan. 13 start date, with either a 52- or 56-game schedule, sources confirmed to ESPN. The sides have communicated daily since Thursday, and the hope is to finalize a plan by the end of the week. That plan -- which will include temporary divisional realignment, schedules and coronavirus protocols -- must be approved by the NHL's board of governors and the NHLPA's executive board.

This represents progress after talks cooled off the past several weeks because of a financial stalemate.

NHL owners informed the players that they're looking for additional cash flow to start the season. Shortly before Thanksgiving, the owners brought two ideas forward: players taking even more deferred compensation past the 10% they already agreed to this past summer and accepting changes to the escrow cap.

While players were frustrated by the idea of changing a financial arrangement that was agreed upon just five months ago, they told the league they would be willing to budge if they could get some concessions in return. So the players brought several ideas forward to the league, though sources say the league didn't seem interested in any of them.

So for now, the memorandum of understanding on the collective bargaining agreement will remain in place, and discussions are only about divisional alignment, protocols and schedules.

One positive on the players' side: One veteran NHLPA rep said he believes the players are on the same page "for the first time in a while."

"It's been nice to see that united front," the player said.

The NHL is figuring out a way to help owners with cash flow. On Monday, the Sports Business Journal reported that NBA teams will each receive $30 million from the league to help with finances and protect against any liquidity issues due to the pandemic. A league source told ESPN on Monday that the NHL is working on a similar plan, but didn't reveal any details on what that stimulus package would look like. The stimulus package would help teams cover operational costs and potentially allow for the rehiring of some employees who were furloughed or laid off during the pandemic.


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If I wasn't lazy I would insert the "And Here We Go..." Joker GIF


The NHL told its seven Canadian-based teams on Thursday that there is a possibility they will have to play in the United States this season due to roadblocks with Canadian health authorities, sources told ESPN.

The NHL had been hoping to play a 56-game season starting on Jan. 13 with teams playing in their own arenas. That plan included divisional realignment and an all-Canadian division -- necessary because the U.S.- Canada border remains closed to nonessential business. However, provincial health authorities in Canada have challenged some of the NHL's proposed protocols, which could force a change. The NHL and NHLPA were hoping to have a plan in place by the end of the week -- which would need to be approved via vote by the board of governors and the NHLPA's executive committee -- but as of Friday morning, the two sides continue to hammer away at details.

Sportsnet was the first to report about the challenges with the Canadian health authorities.

While the development has slowed some of the NHL's momentum, it isn't a big surprise: The NBA's Toronto Raptors are beginning their season in Tampa, Florida.

Sources tell ESPN that commissioner Gary Bettman has consulted with Dr. Anthony Fauci over the past few months, as well as other leading infectious disease experts, as the league formulates its strategy. The NHL and NHLPA have been meeting daily over the past two weeks.

The NHL has vowed to remain nimble as it looks to award a Stanley Cup before the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021 -- with the goal of restoring a normal cadence for the 2021-22 season. But some teams are already facing challenges due to local restrictions stemming from COVID-19.

"We have a couple of clubs that can't hold training camp or conduct games even without fans in their current buildings and facilities," Bettman told a video panel discussion hosted by the World Hockey Forum in Moscow on Thursday. "And we're going to have to move them somewhere else to play."

Sources told ESPN that the San Jose Sharks are making contingency plans to open their training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona, because of Santa Clara County's ban on contact sports (which has also forced the NFL's San Francisco 49ers to temporarily relocate operations to Arizona).

This week, dozens of NHL players voluntarily returned to their playing cities, with the expectation that the season would start on Jan. 13 and training camps would begin a few days after Christmas. The NHL and the players' association agreed to allow the seven teams that did not qualify for 2020's expanded playoff field to have additional training camp time since they hadn't played since March. But sources told ESPN that because of the time crunch, those teams might get only an additional one to three days, if anything.

If the NHL can't continue with its first option -- teams playing in their own arenas -- the league is willing to pivot to a hybrid bubble or hub city format.

"Right now, we're focused on whether or not we're going to play in our buildings and do some limited traveling or play in a bubble," Bettman said at Thursday's World Hockey Forum panel. "That's something we're working on and getting medical advice on."


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A resolution may finally be within reach for the league and its players on a format for the 2020-21 season. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports this evening that the NHL and NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement on the terms of season, which would include a 56-game regular season schedule.

Of course, no agreement between the sides can be finalized until it is approved by each independently first. On that note, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the NHLPA and its player reps are expected to meet tonight while the NHL Board of Governors will meet this weekend.

Among the details trickling in are as follows:

  • The league will start on January 13 as hoped, per TVA’s Renaud Lavoie. Lavoie adds that the agreed-upon plan does include an all-Canadian division, as expected, though concerns exist about the logistics of cross-province travel.
  • TSN’s Frank Seravalli echoes that January 13 start date, though he opines that all dates could be subject to change. That includes training camp start dates as well, which he expects to be December 30 for the seven 2019-20 non-playoff teams and January 3 for all others.
  • Seravalli also reports that rosters are expected to remain at 23 players, but that each team may carry a taxi squad of four to six players who will travel and practice with the team, but will be paid their AHL salaries and will not count against the salary cap.
  • Seravalli adds that all players will be given the right to opt out of the season for personal or familial health concerns and that teams will have the decision of whether or not to toll the contract.
  • Friedman notes that salaries will not be pro-rated despite the shortened season. He also confirms that thre will be no preseason exhibition games.
  • Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater reports that the tentative plan is for every team to play out of their home building this season, at least at the outset, rather than playing in hub cities as some had speculated.
  • With the league expected to be broken down into four realigned divisions without any conference alignment, Friedman reports that each division will produce four playoff teams and the postseason will be inter-division until four division winners become the semifinalists for the 2021 Stanley Cup.


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1 hour ago, RIPPA said:


This is different that was earlier reported but not by much (Pittsburgh and Carolina and St Louis and Dallas seem to be the only swaps)

And of course look at which team got completely fucked over worse than anyone in all of this. 

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52 minutes ago, Dewar said:

I didn't realize you were so sympathetic to the travel issues the Vancouver Canucks will be facing this season.

Did the Canucks miss the playoffs for nine fucking years, add a former Hart winner to play with (at worst) one of the 10 best players in the league, finally look like having a season that isn't over halfway through it and the league goes "You get put in the division of death ha ha fuck you!"?

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League officially announced its list of "Critical Dates"


December 31: Training camps open for seven non-playoff teams from 2019-20.

January 3: Training camps open for 24 playoff teams from 2019-20.

January 13: 2020-21 regular season begins.

April 12: Trade deadline (3pm ET)

May 8: Last day of regular season.

May 11: Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.

July 9: Last possible day of Stanley Cup Final.

July 17: Deadline for expansion protection lists (5pm ET).

July 21: Seattle Kraken expansion draft (8pm ET).

July 23: Round 1 of NHL Entry Draft.

July 24: Rounds 2-7 of NHL Entry Draft.

July 28: Free agent signing period begins (12pm ET)


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