The NHL and the NHLPA made an announcement on Friday about the ratification of a 4 year extension. Now we can say for certain that the NHL is back and this is what it’s going to look like.
The deal that was signed is to extend the contract between the players and the league for an additional 4 years after the next 2 years are complete. This deal will bring labour peace in the NHL for the next 6 years.
That was a big story all on its own. The real big, huge, gigantic story is the fact that the NHL will play this summer. At times since the shutdown it looked as if this was a wash and we weren’t going to get any hockey whatsoever.
However, with the leadership of Gary Bettman they were able to get the players on the ice. There are some pretty stringent rules and guidelines as well when it comes to the return to play.
The NHL return to play has all the players in 2 cities. The 2 cities the NHL and the players chose were Toronto and Edmonton. There was some speculation that the west would play in the east and the east would play in the west, but that isn’t the case.
What does that mean? That means that the Edmonton Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be playing in there home rink. The exception being if the Leafs make the Conference Finals because the league has picked Edmonton as the city to host the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals.
The new CBA and return to play was full of some juicy must know dates as well. The league and players have decided not to waste any time on this really out of speculation that second wave of Coronavirus that might hit in the fall.
The critical dates the NHL and NHLPA agreed to are the start of training camp, travel to hub city, exhibition games, Stanley Cup qualifiers, phase 2 of NHL draft lottery, first round of playoffs, second round begins, conference finals begin, Stanley Cup Finals begin, last possible day of final and the 2020 NHL Draft.
Training Camp – July 13th
Travel to Hub City – July 26th
Exhibition Games – July 28th – 30th
Stanley Cup Qualifiers – August 1st
Phase 2 of NHL Draft Lottery – August 10th
First Round of Playoffs – August 11th
Second Round Begins – August 25th
Conference Finals Begin – September 8th
Stanley Cup Finals Begin- September 22nd
Last possible day of final – October 4th
2020 NHL Draft – October 9th – 10th
So with all those key dates in place we have some wild hockey in front of us. After this long of a wait I can’t imagine how excited people are to get their hockey fix.
The hockey fix may seem like a hockey overdose with an insane amount of hockey. The league format will have the games begin at 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm, 6:30pm, 8:00pm and 10:30pm. These are all eastern standard time in case you were looking to set your clock.
The league also hasn’t confirmed whether or not they are setting up a pay per view package or going straight to cable TV. With amount of advertising dollars at stake in this tournament we are likely about to see some sort of pay per view. However nothing has been mentioned and that is just some wild speculation.
What have we learned thus far? We have learned that the NHL will return, the important dates in the near future and the hub cities. Now we get into the meat and potatoes.
While in the hub cities the NHL teams will be put into a quarantine type of situation. The bus drivers, cooks, hotel staff, hockey staff, everyone in that bubble won’t be able to leave until their team is out or they are done.
Should a person leave they won’t be permitted back in the bubble. However if a player leaves for a no good reason that player is jeopardizing there teams future and is running the risk of huge fines and a lengthy suspension.
Not only did the NHL and NHLPA agree to return to play terms but they also agreed to let the players participate in the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics.
Even though the deal says they will play in the Olympics it is still dependant on an agreement between the NHL, NHLPA, IOC, and the IIHF. This would mean that this would be the first time since 2014 that NHL players participate in the Olympics.
So with all that announced the NHL bracket is the last piece of business for us to let you know about for now. The bracket will look great with 16 teams playing for the right to play the other 8.
The play-ins are a best 3 out of 5 series. Which means the team that wins 3 games first moves on.
The play-in bracket will see these matchups.
Calgary vs. Winnipeg
Nashville vs. Arizona
Edmonton vs. Chicago
Vancouver vs. Minnesota
Toronto vs. Columbus
Carolina vs. New York Rangers
Pittsburgh vs. Montreal
New York Islanders vs. Florida
With those matchups set we will have a round robin round for the top 8 teams so they can be organized for the beginning of the playoffs. Those 8 teams are as follows.
Vegas Golden Knights
Tampa Bay Lightning
However the chips end up on this we are impressed with the resolve of all the players and teams that are participating in the tournament. Thus far only one person has said they will opt out and that was a Calgary Flames defenceman.
Should this player have no underlining issues or not have a new born baby and is just scared or feeling that they are more important than everyone maybe the Flames should look at trading him in the off season.
The bubble looks to be like the safest place to be in the entire world with extreme measures and testing up the wazoo you would be safer in that bubble than almost any city in the world at this point.