It’s been three months since the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisted the Stanley Cup, and the NHL has not made any announcement on the start of the 2020-21 season. According to the latest report from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the league is planning to start up in mid-January.
According to the report, the NHL is set for a 52 or 56-game schedule, but players around the league haven’t received any notice of when they’re supposed to return to their playing cities.
Currently, the biggest roadblocks have been the lack of communication between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association regarding both COVID-19 protocols and money.
Owners are asking players to alter their contracts, which would include deferring salary beyond the 10 percent that they previously agreed to, according to ESPN.
On Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke at a Sports Business Journal panel and said that the league still is planning on holding the 2020-21 season — but did not get into any specifics. He noted that the current second wave of COVID-19, which will likely be affected by Christmas travel, is a large factor to why the NHL is “taking their time” in announcing next steps.
Bettman also touched on the financial differences between the NHL and Players’ Association, saying “whatever the revenues are, the players only get 50%,” and adding “we’re trying to look for a way to continue to work together.”
“Under our deal and the one we’ve had for more than a decade with the players’ association, whatever the revenues are, the players only get 50%,” Bettman said. “And if we overpay them and they don’t pay us back in the short term, they have to pay us back over time. There will be stressors on that system, and we’ve had discussions about what those stresses are and how they might be dealt with, but we’re not trying to say, ‘You must do X, Y and Z.’ We’re trying to look for a way to continue to work together.”
What is known about the upcoming NHL season is that the league has previously expressed its desire to avoid a bubble scenario this coming season. Realigning divisions, a way to limit longer travel times and avoid teams going from Canada to the United States, has been discussed as well.