It took a lot longer than it should have, but reporting from Darren Dreger indicates that the complicated and nitpicky salary issue for the players against the league have been resolved. We have no details with respect to how the players are going to be paid — in some combination of deferred salary and pay cuts in the form of escrow — but at least it’s done.
Sources say there will be no more discussions on proposed financial changes to the MOU outlining the terms of the CBA. Sunday the NHLPA proposed more deferred money, but didn’t include an increase in escrow percentage at any point. Focus now on a mid Jan start to season.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 8, 2020
Further reporting from Pierre LeBrun suggests that the league is going to open their season in January 13th (37 days from now) with a 56-game schedule. There is still lots to figure out, but the NHL and NHLPA have done this before in the summer so surely they can put together a season in time.
Both sides targeting Jan. 13 start to season in order to get 56-game sked but even with financials no longer an issue as @DarrenDreger first reported, still some work to be done on protocols, schedule, critical date, etc, plus subject to NHL BOG and NHLPA executive board approval https://t.co/ESSjY94Slt— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 8, 2020
Expanding on these timelines, the Tokyo “2020” Summer Olympics has been scheduled to start on July 28th. NBC is the American rights holder for the Olympics as well as the Stanley Cup Playoffs and won’t want to overlap their two major sporting events. So if that is the cold, hard deadline, the NHL regular season should conclude at the end of May. January 13th to May 28th is 135 days, which gives teams the ability to play a game every 2.4 days. This gives them breathing room in case teams need to postpone games and quarantine.
Canada is going to have their own division, and depending on COVID-19 protocols around the States, we will probably see Divisional Bubbles with limited fans in attendance. I doubt teams travel across country to play games against teams that generally don’t draw the same viewership. Divisional rivalries are still what seem to drive fan engagement, according to the league (playoffs notwithstanding).
ESPN put together an impressively reasonable guess for what the Divisions are going to look like and the Colorado Avalanche seem to have gotten a pretty good draw.
The Kings, Ducks, and Sharks are all tanking. The Coyotes got worse and were bad to begin with and the Wild tread water like they do every year. The only real competition for the Avs will be the Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars. The Knights got Alex Pietrangelo, but had to give up a lot to add him to their roster. They also have cap issues to deal with. And while the Stars have run back the same roster, the Avalanche have improved massively. A new top-pair defenseman, a top-six winger, and potentially full seasons from Bowen Byram and Conor Timmins.
This article did a good job looking at the cap and roster situations of each team in the “West” and what teams need in order to be ready for a full season. It also talks about potential Taxi Squads in order to limit AHL-to-NHL transactions during the season — an issue that affects many teams with prospects across the border.
Do you think the NHL can meet the reported January 13th start date?
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January 13th Hockey, Baby!
Maybe a little late?