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NHL, NHLPA ratify Return to Play plan; Blues start on August 2nd

Let the playoffs begin.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL and NHLPA have agreed on both their Return to Play plan and the four-year extension of the current CBA. The league’s goal is to have the Stanley Cup awarded by October, barring a resurgence of COVID-19 in Canada.

The Western Conference playoffs will take place, as expected in Edmonton, while the Eastern Conference’s will take place in Toronto. As part of a continuing ploy to deny the city of Toronto the chance to see the Stanley Cup be lifted by a winning team, the Conference Finals and Cup Final will be played in Edmonton.

From the NHL’s press release:

Following a 142-day pause, the National Hockey League will drop the puck with a five-game schedule of Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Saturday, Aug. 1, as the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and NHL ratified a four-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (through 2025-26) and a Return to Play Plan. The sweeping agreements pave the way for the resumption of the 2019-20 NHL season toward the crowning of a Stanley Cup champion by early October and provide an updated economic framework for the League and its Players, including addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Today, the NHL and the NHLPA announced a significant agreement that addresses the uncertainty everyone is dealing with, the framework for the completion of the 2019-20 season and the foundation for the continued long-term growth of our League,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “I thank NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr and Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider, the more than 700 NHL Players – particularly those who worked on our Return to Play Committee – and the NHL’s Board of Governors for coming together under extraordinary circumstances for the good of our game. While we have all worked very hard to try to address the risks of COVID-19, we know that health and safety are and will continue to be our priorities. We know that all of our fans are excited about our return to the ice next month and that has been our goal since we paused our season on March 12.”

“This agreement is a meaningful step forward for the players and owners, and for our game, in a difficult and uncertain time. This would not have happened but for the enormous contributions that the players made throughout, particularly those who served on the Negotiating and Return to Play Committees, as well as those on the Executive Board,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. “I also thank Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and the NHL staff for their efforts towards finding solutions to the problems we face. Most importantly, we are pleased to be able to bring NHL hockey back to the fans. We look forward to the NHL’s continued growth here in North America and on the world stage.”

The players and each team’s 52 club personnel will be living inside of a “bubble” through their elimination from the post-season. Players will be tested daily for COVID-19, and anyone testing positive will be isolated. It’ll be worth watching to see how the league handles it if a team (God forbid) has multiple positive cases that would prevent a sizable chunk of their roster from participating in games.

The full details of the CBA Memo of Understanding can be read here.

The round robin kicks off with Boston vs. Philadelphia and, more importantly, St. Louis vs. Colorado, on August 2nd. TonyX speaks for us all regarding the schedule:

The league has released a tentative schedule of critical dates: