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NHL, union tentatively agree to return-to-play plan, 4-year CBA extension

Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

The NHL and players' association reached a memorandum of understanding on a return-to-play plan and a four-year extension of the current collective bargaining agreement, the league announced Monday.

The deal must now be ratified by the NHL's board of governors and the union's executive board followed by the full NHLPA membership. A simple majority is needed from the players while three-quarters of owners must vote in support of the plan, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

If ratified, the CBA will run through the 2025-26 campaign. The review and approval process will take place over the next few days, the league adds.

Training camps will begin July 13, and teams will travel to their respective hub cities July 26 before the qualifying round of the 24-team playoff format starts Aug. 1.

Edmonton and Toronto are expected to be named the hub cities, with the former reportedly hosting the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

TSN's Frank Seravalli reported the following details of the tentative agreement Saturday:

  • Any player wishing to opt out of the league's return plan can do so without facing any discipline.
  • The salary cap upper limit will be frozen at $81.5 million until hockey-related revenue hits $4.8 billion - the amount projected for the current season before the pandemic.
  • NHLers will participate in the Beijing (2022) and Milan (2026) Olympics pending an agreement with the IOC.
  • Escrow for players will be capped at 20% next season, and that total will dip to 6% by 2025-26.
  • Players will defer 10% of salary and signing bonuses next season, which will be paid back in three installments in 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26.
  • All no-trade and no-move clauses will follow players to their new teams if they are dealt, even if the clause hasn't kicked in yet.
  • Players on teams that are not participating in 24-team format, plus players who opt-out of participating, will be eligible to sign contacts outside of North America but won't be able to return for 2021-22 NHL season

Some key health and safety protocols for Phase 3 and 4 of the league's return include:

  • On-ice officials and coaches are not required to wear face coverings during games
  • All participants involved in Phase 4 will be required to undergo daily temperature and symptom checks to detect for possible infection
  • Each club will be permitted to bring a maximum of 52 people to the Phase 4 Secure Zone, including club ownership, players, coaches, executives, staff, and all other personnel
  • Rosters will include no more than 31 players
  • Personnel who are authorized to leave the bubble - either for medical reasons or personal circumstances - will be required to quarantine upon their return pending four negative tests over a four-day span
  • Personnel who leave the bubble without authorization may be subject to consequences. For teams, these repercussions include significant penalties, potentially including fines and/or loss of draft choices
  • All players must complete a pre-participation medical examination and be cleared as "fit to play" by a cardiologist and team physician before returning to game activity

The league announced Monday that nine more players tested positive for COVID-19 in the last seven days, bringing the total number of positive tests to 35 since Phase 2 began June 8.

NHL, union tentatively agree to return-to-play plan, 4-year CBA extension
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