Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images / Agence France-Presse
Mathieu Schneider of the NHLPA and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
The national hockey League and the players Association the NHL has taken a giant step towards a stimulus, later this summer, their season 2019-2020 interrupted by the pandemic, and to an industrial peace in the long term.
The league and the union have announced on Monday that the two clans had worked out the details of an agreement in principle on a protocol to return to the game, and a memorandum of understanding for an extension of four years of the collective agreement currently in force.
The board of governors of the NHL, the executive committee of the NHLPA and all the other members of the Association will ratify the tentative agreements, which are linked one to the other, in separate votes. If the proposals get the green light, training camps will begin on 13 July and 24 teams who have to put the collar back on will in the cities-poles on the 26th of July.
The qualification round for the playoffs will begin on the 1st of August.
The proposed collective agreement, which has been the subject of discussions in the shadow of economic conditions, without precedent, caused by the COVID-19, would ensure at least 14 years of harmony after the lockout that canceled an entire season in 2004-2005, and caused the reduction in the 48 games of the 2012-2013 campaign.
The new agreement, if ratified, will expire after the season 2025-2026.
The NHL has not announced the two cities-poles for the resumption of these activities this summer, but Toronto and Edmonton would be the favorite. The league and the players have unveiled the format for a recovery towards the end of the month of may.
The project to resurrect the season means that players will be kept away from the general population on the inside of the “bubbles” closely managed — the games will be held in the absence of spectators in the hope of keeping at a distance the coronavirus.
The NHL, which announced that it will conduct tests on the players on a daily basis once the games started, has repeatedly said that one or more a positive test will not necessarily derail the recovery.
The NHL and the NHLPA have clarified Monday to take comprehensive measures in the field of health and safety in anticipation of training camps, and the resumption of the game — stages-named Phase 3 and Phase 4, respectively, in two documents totalling 47 pages.
The NHL, which has had to interrupt its season on march 12, because of the COVID-19, hopes to boost its activities with a format that includes a qualification round consisting of eight series, three of five, before moving on to the usual format of 16 teams in the playoffs.
The NHL hopes to be able to crown the Stanley cup champion in the fall.