Happy Weekend Avs Nation - we get to start things off with some great news. Friday evening, news broke that the NHL and NHLPA had come to a tentative agreement to start the 2021 season.
From Bill Daly:
“We have a tentative Agreement with the Players’ Association on plans for the 2020/21 NHL Season. The agreement is subject to approval by both of our respective constituencies.’’
Both sides still have to vote on the deal, but the crux of the agreement is that the league will play 56 games beginning on January 13. Training camp would officially begin January 3rd with no preason games being played.. Things are going to need to move quickly in order to meet that date. The NHLPA already held a conference call Friday night with the league expected to hold one for the Board of Governors on either Sunday or Monday.
The biggest stumbling block now is getting approval from the provincial governments in Canada. With different quarantine laws in effect throughout the country, NHL teams would be looking for exceptions from the protocol in order to travel for away games. Canadian governments have been hesitant to make exception for sports so we will have to wait and see what happens.
All indications from #NHL travel protocol drafts are that player movement in road cities will be very stringent. Players and staff will be limited to game rink, practice rink, or team hotel. That's it.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 19, 2020
No outside facilities, bars, restaurants or shops. All meals in team hotel.
Along with the announcement of a deal, the NHL announced how they would be expanding rosters. Each team will have a taxi squad of four to six players on top of the normal roster of 23. All 29 players will travel and practice with the NHL team thought he designated alternates will be paid an AHL salary and not count against the cap.
This throws yet another wrinkle into expansion draft planning:
Will be curious to see what happens if “Taxi Squad” players spend the entire season with the club but never play a game.— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) December 19, 2020
20+ year old players need to least 1 pro game in order to earn a pro season. This is notable for players who are 1 year away from expansion draft eligibility.
As well, any player will be allowed to opt out of the season is they or an immediate family member is believed to be considered high-risk. If a player is to opt-out, teams would have the option of tolling the contract for the year.
The news is good, but there are still a number of big hurdles to clear.
Over at the World Juniors, Avalanche prospect Bo Byram has been named an assistant captain for team Canada. Dylan Cozens will wear the other ‘A’ while Kirby Dach was named the team’s captain.
"They really set the standard, and that's the kind of leadership we want from them."— #WorldJuniors (@HC_WJC) December 18, 2020
Dach, Byram and Cozens ready to lead Canada at the #WorldJuniors. https://t.co/0wSsJkoP40 pic.twitter.com/N7g9lDGD0j
It was not all good news coming out of Edmonton. The IIHF announced that eight members of Team Germany tested positive for COVID upon arriving at the bubble. The team will be placed under quarantine until the 24th with all of their pre-tournament games cancelled.
With the potential for the NHL season on the horizon, there are a few more news and notes that give us a better insight as to how it will all play out. We also look back on an influential figure to the Avalanche franchise.
Per the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci, The NHL has been given a suggestion as to how he believes the upcoming season should be handled.
This is quite the news for fans hoping to see a live game at their respective home arena this season. As we experienced in the playoffs, the bubble provides an interesting feel for players, coaches, and fans alike. The lack of fans and ice level noise become the focal point for entertainment. As much as I am hoping that there will be games played at newly named Ball Arena, I can’t complain about the NHL returning in any capacity.
In other news, Henrik Lundqvist has posted that his tenure with the Washington Capitals will be put on hold because of a heart complication as per his social media account. Get well soon King Hank.
Some tough news I need to share with you all.. pic.twitter.com/y7ZtAoo39Q— Henrik Lundqvist (@hlundqvist35) December 17, 2020
As we all look forward to the new season, I’d like to take a moment to personally acknowledge Pierre Lacroix’s direct impact on the organization, and how his work directly impacted the culture and expectations for this franchise. With his guidance, the Colorado Avalanche have established themselves as one of the staples of excellence in the NHL.
As Pierre said, and is quoted in the Avalanche locker room:
“IT’S ALL ABOUT COMMITMENT”
RIP Pierre Lacroix 1948-2020
Enjoy your weekend Avs Nation!