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UPDATE: NHLPA and Ownership ratifies new CBA terms, season to return on August 1st

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The maybe dates are set. The road to return begins now.

NBA & NHL Suspend Seasons Due to Coronavirus Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Over the past couple of days, the NHL and the NHLPA have been hammering out the details on a memorandum of understanding (basically a gentleman’s agreement in legalese) on the return of the season, and today both sides announced they reached an agreement that makes sense for everybody. They hashed out quite a few things, such as the CBA getting a four year extension (No lockouts!), and rules on the transition back into normality...whatever that means.

Most critically, it also gives us something we haven’t had in months: Concrete dates. The current setup as it stands is the following:

  • July 13th: Training Camp Starts. Everything that was outlined here still applies, but with the number of COVID cases going around the league...it’s hard to say it’ll be smooth.
  • July 26th: Teams go to the hub cities of Toronto and Edmonton. My suggestion for all is to block all Edmontonians on social media during the first week because the amount of unearned civic pride will be unbearable.
  • August 1st: The qualifying rounds begin.

Here’s some big CBA things you need to know:

  1. The NHL Players are going BACK to the Olympics! 2022 in Beijing and 2026 in Milan will be your dates!
  2. Signing Bonuses now have no ceiling: Go on ahead and give a player a 700k contract with 12 million in signing bonuses. Nobody can stop you now.
  3. Everyone’s final paycheck is going through: Should’ve happened already, but it’s good that it did happen at all.
  4. Playoff Share: Basically you get paid to go deep into the playoffs. If you get bounced in the qualifiers you get 20k, and if you win the cup, you get 240k. I openly beg one player to say they’re only in it for the bonuses and go on a tear as a result.

Here’s some Phase 3 highlights:

  • Each team at their practices/training camps will be allowed unlimited goalies. For those of you pining for all-goalie hockey, you little visionaries, this is the time for you.
  • Players can opt out of Return to Play at any time. Keep that in mind when someone important (or injured) on a team doesn’t show up.
  • Some players might be subject to 14-day quarantines depending on the state. Hopefully the B’s have been smart about going outside lately, but they also have likely the longest to wait to play.
  • Testing will be abundant, quarantines will be set, and we finally look like we have something resembling a way back to the playoffs. That said, they will not be reporting positive cases. Just...keep that in mind if a good player suddenly can’t move on the bench, disappears and has an “Upper body” injury by the end of the day.
  • Thankfully for the media people (and really, who isn’t thinking of the hockey media people in these trying times), they’ll also be allowing limited numbers of folks to participate, and virtual interviews will be common. It’ll be just like old times...except on zoom!

Now, let’s get something clear; the plug could be pulled on this at any time. This is tentative, meaning nothing is entirely set in stone. The PA or the Ownership could be at odds on the CBA stuff or something like that and we could be back at square one again. It’s the closest we’ve gotten so far, and if I’m going to be honest...It’s as fragile as any other league’s ideas so far, and if the players don’t buy in and take this seriously, someone could be seriously affected.

But we’re as close as we’re ever gonna get to seeing the Bruins go back into You can read fuller plans for phase 3 and 4 right here.

Are you ready to play Washington, Philly and Tampa? Who are you most excited to see after the break?

7/10/20 UPDATE:

The Players and Owners ratified it. We’re on for August 1st.