NHLPA rubber-stamps return-to-play plan; summer of hockey officially on the horizon

Justin Cuthbert
·3 min read
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 31:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his third period empty-net goal, moving him past Mark Messier into 8th on the all-time NHL goals list, in a game against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on January 31, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
Hockey is coming back. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Labour peace now. Hockey soon.

After months of plotting, the NHL has cleared the final hurdle in its efforts to restart to the 2019-20 season amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, having received a majority vote from the NHLPA membership on the Return to Play plan, along with the framework on a four-year extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

NHLPA members have spent the last few days submitting votes for and against the proposal, which was tentatively agreed upon at the beginning this week. With both the immediate and long-term plans — which in this case were inextricably linked — now agreed on, teams and players will move forward with the plan to begin training camps at the beginning of next week before eventually transitioning to hub cities in Toronto and Edmonton to resume the 2019-20 season in secure zones on August 1.

Once all the fine details have been set in ink on the CBA extension, the NHL and NHLPA can lower their weapons for the next little while, with a labour agreement now in place through until the end of the 2025-26 season.

Here are the important details, believed to be finalized under the re-start plans:

Key Dates

July 13: Training camps open in 24 team facilities
July 26: Teams travel to hub cities
July 28: Exhibition games begin
August 1: Qualifying round begins
August 10: NHL Draft Lottery, Phase 2
September 8: Conference Finals begin (teams converge on one hub city prior)
September 22: Stanley Cup Final begins
October 4: Last possible date for Stanley Cup Final
October 9: NHL Draft
November 17: Training camps 2020-21 season begin
December 1: 2020-21 NHL season begins

*Dates subject to change, and based on reports over the last week.

Here’s a look at the schedule for the first slate of games:

Hub Cities and Hotels

Toronto and Edmonton will serve as the hub cities for the NHL’s restart, with Edmonton expected to host the Eastern and Western Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final. Each city will use two hotels to accommodate the 52-person travelling parties for each team.

Toronto
Hotel X: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins
Fairmont Royal York: Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens

Edmonton
JW Marriott: St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators
Sutton Place: Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks

Participation

Players will have the option to decline participation without penalty, but must exercise that right before Monday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline.

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