The NHL and the NHL Players' Association announced Monday they have agreed "in principle" to a four-year extension of the current collective bargaining agreement, as well as further protocols for resuming the 2019-20 season.
According to the joint statement, the memorandum of understanding agreed upon by the two sides will extend the CBA through the 2025-26 season. The agreement on Phases 3 and 4 of the NHL's Return to Play Plan would see teams begin training camp in their local markets on July 13 (Phase 3), travel to two hub cities on July 26 (the start of Phase 4), and begin playing the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Aug. 1.
The location of the two hub cities -- one for 12 Eastern Conference teams and the other for 12 Western Conference teams -- have not been announced, though TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the cities are expected to be Toronto and Edmonton.
Both the CBA extension and implantation of Phases 3 and 4 must still be ratified by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA membership. According to the release, the union is expected to vote in the next 3-5 days. The current CBA is scheduled to expire Sept. 15, 2022. The extension would carry it through Sept. 15, 2026.
Play in the NHL was stopped on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed playoff schedule would end with a Stanley Cup champion in early October.
According to the release, Phase 3 will allow players to participate in full team activities, both on and off the ice, and permit coaches, staff and the front office to conduct "typical training camp activities while following preventative measures." Those measures include enhanced COVID-19 testing and "diligent hygiene practices."
When teams arrive in the hub cities, they will be housed in what the league is calling "Phase 4 Secure Zones" -- areas that will include hotels, restaurants, practice facilities and the playing arena. Anyone in these zones will be subject to daily testing, symptom screening and temperature checks.
According to the TSN report, failure to comply with the protocols in the bubble "could lead to significant financial penalties, and potentially the loss of draft picks.' Also per the report, if a player tests positive for COVID-19 they will be deemed "unfit to play," which will be treated as a hockey-related injury under the CBA.
--Field Level Media