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NHL and NHLPA trying to finalize deal on return to play and CBA – Puck Prose

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The NHL and NHLPA could have something finalized regarding its return to play and CBA extension shortly.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie has announced on social media that the NHL and NHLPA are trying to finalize an agreement on the proposed return to play and collective bargaining agreement (CBA) extension. In regards to the CBA, we are looking at a six-year extension, which will finally give the league and its players some much-needed clarity.

Again, we are not looking at a full CBA but rather a memo of understanding by the league and its players. The player vote could begin as soon as Monday if they announce the deal today. They will have three days to put their vote in.

We now officially have dates on the calendar but most of them are tentative meaning if there are no hiccups. Training Camps are actually set to open on July 13 instead of the proposed July 10 due to the delay in the selection of the hub cities. The teams will then travel to Toronto and Edmonton around July 26 with the first games scheduled for August 1.

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Here are some terms and clauses from the proposed agreement. There is an opt-out clause meaning any player who decides that it is not safe for them to return has the option to opt and will not be penalized.

In the beginning, it was discussed that a player who was opting out for anything other than a medical condition would not be eligible for a playoff share and they would not get their final quarterly pension credit for the season.

There is in fact a playoff bonus pool and it has actually been increased from $16 million to $32 million. Players who play on a team that lost in the play-in series will get $20,000. Every round that number will increase potentially up to $240,000 per player for winning the Stanley Cup.

The CBA, in fact, will be extended by 6 years and will expire at the end of the 2025-26 NHL season. This is a great move that will ensure stability and peace among the league, owners, and players.

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the league and the players have agreed to put a freeze on the salary cap. It will be frozen at $81.5 million until the hockey-related revenue returns to $4.8 billion, which was the projection before the pandemic hit. When the revenue returns to that number, the upper limit will be calculated differently based on revenue from two years ago plus the amount projected for the next season.

There is also Olympic participation included in the CBA extension. NHL players will return to the 2022 Olympics in Bejing and the 2026 games in Milan pending a deal with the IOC and the IIHF. There is also no signing bonus limit in the deal. The player’s final check which was deferred will be used to pay their debts to the owners. They owe the club owners approximately $140 million.

The escrow in the deal varies in the agreement and while the players are reimbursing the owners the percentage cannot go higher than the agreed percentage. Here are the percentages below.

  • 2020-21: 20%
  • 2021-22: 14-18% (TBD)
  • 2022-23: 10%
  • 2023-24: 6%
  • 2024-25: 6%
  • 2025-26: 6%

Players will have to defer 10% of their salary and signing bonus for the 2020-21 season and will be paid back to the players in three installments in 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26. There is a no-trade and no-movement clause rule that will make the clause stay with the player even if he is traded before the clause kicks in.

They are also trying to get rid of contracts that are front-loaded by decreasing the salary variability from highest to lowest year from 50% down to 35%. They have also laid out the minimum salary for a player for the duration of the CBA extension.

The increase next season when it goes up from $700,000 to $750,000 and will remain at that level until the 2024-25 season when it will increase again up to $775,000 and finishing at $800,000 in 2025-26.

An added bonus to the CBA will be a post-career health care subsidy meaning players will get $3500 to $5000 extra in their pocket. Also, an injured player who is out long term and wants to rehab will be able to do it in the city of their choice. They won’t need to stay in the city where their team resides unless it’s proven that the rehab can’t be done anywhere else.

Included in the deal as well as an amendment to the rule pertaining to players who want to come back to the NHL from Europe. Originally, a player who wanted to come back from Europe had to be placed on waivers before they could return. The rule includes that a deal needs to be signed by December 15th for a player to eligible to return. Now a player can return to the NHL from Europe without having to go through waivers.

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That’s it you’re all caught up on the framework for the upcoming return to play and the CBA deal that will allow hockey to come back. We are now less than 10 days away from the start of training camp and we will keep you posted on anything that happens or changes. We will also let you know once the deal is finalized.

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