NHL, NHLPA agree to four-year CBA extension, set dates for Return to Play plan


NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Montreal Canadiens
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The NHL and NHLPA have come to an agreement on a four-year extension of the current CBA, as well as protocols for Phases 3 and 4 of the league’s Return To Play plan. The league announced the news on Monday and outlined specific target dates for the Return to Play phases. 

The 24 teams participating in the expanded playoff format will begin formal training camps (Phase 3) on July 13, and those teams will travel to the league’s hub cities on July 26. The restart will kick off on Aug. 1, when the qualifying (aka “play-in”) round is slated to begin. Sixteen teams will compete in a best-of-five play-in series, with the eight winners moving on to take their place in a traditional 16-team, four-round, best-of-seven playoff tournament. 

Though the league hasn’t officially announced the hub cities as of yet, it’s believed the Eastern Conference will play in Toronto while the Western Conference will play in Edmonton. The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will be held in Edmonton.

In the league’s official release, it’s noted that the CBA extension and Return To Play protocols have not been officially ratified just yet. The league’s Board of Governors and the NHLPA are expected to vote on the agreements over the coming days. 

According to ESPN, the Return To Play agreement includes safety protocols, including coronavirus testing practices and bubble guidelines/restrictions. Players have received an outline of what the restart will look like and, as is the case with other leagues, they will have the opportunity to opt-out of Return To Play if they do not feel comfortable playing during the pandemic. 

The current CBA wasn’t set to expire until 2022 (the two sides declined to trigger an opt-out on the deal last fall) but the four-year extension means the agreement will run through the 2025-26 season.





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