Friday night we found out we are getting closer to the start of the NHL 2021 season. TSN’s Frank Seravalli, formerly of the Philadelphia Daily News, first reported on Twitter. The agreement is another step towards the state of the season, however, there are still issues that need approval.
The tentative agreement between the NHL and the Players Association is that the 56 game season will start on January 13th and end on May 8th. Teams will start training camp on January 3rd. However, the seven teams that did not make the expanded playoffs can open their training camps on December 30th. There is no plan for exhibition games as of this time.
Bill Daly, the NHL Deputy Commissioner, told TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, “We have a tentative agreement with the Players’ Association on plans for the 2020-21 NHL season. The agreement is subject to approval by both of our respective constituencies.”
The NHLPA had an executive board call at 8 pm on Friday evening. They stated they are supportive of the terms. The Board of Governors are scheduled to vote sometime this weekend. The divisions have changed a bit from the previous reports:
Canadian Teams Slowing NHL Season Progress
The biggest sticking point is the Both LeBrun and Seravalli report that there is still an issue involving the Canadian teams. The teams have to come to an agreement with the five Canadian Provinces over health protocols. This issue could be resolved as early as Monday, according to LeBrun.
The sticking point is whether or not the NHL players will be subjected to the intra-province quarantine restrictions. Seravalli reports that players will be traveling to provinces by charter plane and quarantined to their hotels, except to go to the rink.
If the two sides cannot come to an agreement, the Canadian teams could face another hub city. That will most likely be Edmonton. The alternative is that the Canadian teams could relocate to the United States for the season. Players are apparently not happy with either scenario.
Abbreviated Season Playoffs and Roster Change
The agreement has changed the playoff format. The top four teams in each division will make the playoffs and play within the division for the first two rounds. The winners of the second round will then advance to the conference finals. This guarantees that the conference finals will have one team from each division.
The agreement calls for a 23 player roster with a salary cap of $81.5 million, both of which remain unchanged. However new for the 2021 season, each team will be allowed to have a 4-6 man taxi squad for a maximum of 29 players. All 29 players will practice and travel with the team. With the new practice squad, teams will have an easier call-up process in the case of injury or exposure.
Players will have the option of opting out for the season. The NHL will consider the opt-out for players who are or who have family members who are high risk.
So far the agreement is still tentative as it still needs to be ratified. There is no word on the schedule or when the Flyers would play their season opener. Stay tuned to Philly Sports Network as news develops.