NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly is "cautiously optimistic" about collective bargaining agreement talks with the Players' Association, and he believes the two sides are committed to a 2021 World Cup of Hockey if the current CBA can be extended or renewed, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.
If a 2021 World Cup came to fruition, it would occur in February, with the NHL taking a break during the 2020-21 season to stage the event.
"The general state of things, there seems to be a lot of agreement on," Daly told Johnston. "It's very kind of amorphous right now but there doesn't seem to be like a huge sticking point on the issues we've talked about. I think there’s general agreement kind of directionally. Where we should be going.
"I think both sides have been open that the agreement's not a perfect agreement and could be improved, but nobody’s holding out for a home run."
The NHL gets until Sept. 1 to trigger a 2020 end date for the current CBA. If the league elects against that, the NHLPA would get until Sept. 15 to do the same. If neither side exercises its termination option, the current CBA would run through September 2022.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr called the deadline "artificial" because there would still be a year left on the current agreement if either side triggered early termination.
Regardless, there's ample time to find a resolution, which increases the chances of best-on-best international hockey returning.
The two sides would love to establish a long-term calendar for international events, Johnston added. Olympic participation is a sticking point. However, the NHL and NHLPA want to add an in-season World Cup, which would replace the 2021 All-Star Game.
Daly said a 2021 World Cup would be "about a week in length."
The United States won the inaugural World Cup in 1996, while Canada took the next two in 2004 and 2016, with the latter marking the last best-on-best tournament because the NHL skipped the 2018 Olympics.
The NHL originally targeted a fall 2020 return for the World Cup, but the league abandoned that possibility in January.