The NHL and the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) reached a tentative agreement to restart the coronavirus-affected 2019-20 season next month and extend the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) by four years.
The agreement, which calls for training camps to open on July 14 and a 24-team playoff to start August 1 in two hub cities – expected to be Toronto and Edmonton after the season was halted in March due to COVID-19 – will go into effect once ratified by the league's board of governors and the NHLPA's executive board as well as the players.
If approved, the CBA would run through 2025-26 and ensure 14 years of labour peace since a lockout shortened the 2012-13 season to 48 games. Details of the extension have not yet been made public.
The NHL did reveal details of the health and safety protocols agreed to by both parties that were necessary for the planned restart.
They include daily testing for COVID-19 once players and team personnel have returned to their club's facility.
Those who test positive or develop symptoms will be placed in isolation for a minimum of 10 days and must twice test negative before being allowed to rejoin the team.
Teams will also be limited to 31-player rosters and a maximum of 52 people in their traveling parties once games begin, with players to be housed separately in hotel rooms and forbidden to enter each other's rooms. Family members will be permitted to join players for only the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.
Players can elect not to participate in the resumption but must notify their team within 72 hours of the completion of the ratification process.
Though terms of the CBA agreement are currently unknown, they are expected to resolve issues involving the salary cap and escrow payments from players to owners to guarantee an even split of league revenues. An agreement for players to be able to resume playing in future Olympics has also been a noted sticking point in negotiations.
NHL players did not compete in the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea after taking part in five consecutive Olympics from 1998-2014.