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The NHL and NHL Players’ Association came to a decision on Friday, July 10th. The agreement between both sides confirmed key dates for the 24-team playoff, Stanley Cup Final, NHL Draft, Free Agency and the start of 2020-21 season. The NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining agreement has also been extended four-years through the 2025-26 season.
Training camps have opened up already in each of the 24-teams local facilities. The set date for the 24-teams to travel to their respective hub cities is on Sunday, July, 26th. The hub cities have been confirmed as Edmonton and Toronto.
12 Eastern Conference teams will go to Toronto and 12 Western Conference teams will go to Edmonton, where they will begin play August 1st with the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, which is Phase four of return-to-play.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke on this and stated “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 12th.”
When play resumes it will be 16 teams during a best-of-five and a round-robin for the top-four teams in each conference which will establish the seeding for the remainder of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Once the seeding is finalized, the remaining teams will stay in both Edmonton and Toronto for the first two rounds of the playoffs.
With everything going according to the planned agreement by the NHL//NHLPA, the conference finals would be set to begin on Tuesday, September 8th and will be held in Edmonton. The Eastern Conference Final, Western Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final will all be at Edmonton’s Rogers Place Arena. The Stanley Cup Final would start up no later than September 22nd and would be ending by no later than October 4th.
The free agency period is pushed back because of this but it will open up after the Stanley Cup Final and NHL Draft are concluded. This means each of the eight-teams who get eliminated from playoff contention have a 12.5% chance of obtaining the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft lottery. That drawing will be held on Monday, August 10th with the 2020 NHL Draft coming in the following months on tentative dates October 9-10th.
The great thing about the new CBA deal extension is that for six years the NHL ensured labor peace for teams and players. This helps with constructing future NHL All-Star Games, NHL Winter Classics, NHL Stadium Series and Winter Olympics.
The future is looking very bright for the years to come with the new CBA extension and agreement from the NHL board and players.