All was right in the world when the NHL returned to action in August of 2020. After months of uncertainty, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to terms that would allow the 2019-2020 season to be played out, ultimately crowing a Stanley Cup champion.
While there were months of negotiations regarding a plethora of concerns, the NHL’s two-city bubble in Edmonton and Toronto was a huge success for the league. The league was able to return to play and hand out the holy grail of hockey.
While the NHL’s two-bubbles, combined with extra expenses were rather costly, the league was applauded for their ability to lockdown the players successfully. There was not a single positive COVID-19 case in the bubble between the two cities.
All of the NHL and NHLPA’s research into the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles gave hope to fans that the puck would be dropped on January 1st for a new season. Unfortunately, that seems farfetched as the league would need to open training camps rather quickly. With no reports indicating when training camp for the NHL would open, this means that the season will be furthered delayed.
When the NHL returned to play in 2020, the league and Players’ Association extended the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) through September 2026.
The extension meant that the two sides would avoid lockout as well for future seasons. In the CBA, players’ salaries had a 20-percent cap on escrow and there were also mentions of the NHL returning to the Olympics.
The summer of 2020 gave fans hope that the NHL would return to play in early January, albeit with a limited schedule.
Now, there are reports that the NHL and NHLPA are dealing with new complications that could further prevent puck drop in the near future.
Focusing on the money side of things, the NHL is looking for extra percentages thanks to revenue dipping. Likely, the league would not have any fans attend their games, so the owners are looking for additional revenue to offset the financial losses.
On the logistical side of things, the Canadian government already denied the NBA’s Toronto Raptors from playing in Canada. With 7 Canadian franchises in the league, traveling across borders would be denied, creating a new obstacle for the NHL and its teams from up North.
There are reports that the NHL may realign divisions in the league to limit travel, most notably creating a Candian Division that has all 7 Candian teams playing against one another, instead of playing teams from across the border.
Add in the cost of testing the players, PPE, and other key safety measures, the NHL and NHLPA have loads to discuss before training camp opens up.
Commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated that the league wants the puck to drop on January 1st, but with every passing day, that timeline seems unrealistic.
It will be interesting to see what the league and players association can agree upon in the coming days.