The St. Louis Blues, the NHL and the rest of the playoff teams are one step closer to hitting the ice. The league and PA agreed on return protocols.
The St. Louis Blues are that much closer to hitting the ice for actual games in the 2020 NHL playoffs. Despite a recent string of positive tests and all the doomsayers after that, the league is pushing forward.
The NHL and the NHL Players Association have come to terms on return to play protocols and dates according to multiple sources, including the New York Post, who was the first source to say the dates had been pushed back. According to the report, teams would open their training camps on July 13.
The league would want players in their hub cities by July 26, though that does not seem to be a hard date. Then, the games would resume on August 1.
Of course, as with anything in sports regarding these things, this announcement just means that the details are worked out. Nothing has been officially voted on by either side.
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The players still have to go through an NHLPA executive committee, which has one representative from each of the 31 teams. Then, it would go through a league-wide vote.
On the owner’s side, it has to be ratified by the board of governors. According to the Post article, the protocols need 2/3 of the owners to vote in favor and a simple majority of both the executive committee and the full player pool.
The only thing worrying about that is a recent rumor that as much as 75% of the NHL players were against returning. I don’t know that I believe that number, but it could be high and still throw a monkey wrench into all of this.
Not mentioned was whether the vote would take place immediately or if the league and PA are still waiting for the CBA extension. Most rumors and reports lean toward the CBA being essentially done except for some minor details, but anything that can go wrong usually does when it comes to these types of negotiations.
So, fans who want hockey can get excited, but not too excited. Fans who think everything will fall apart could still be correct too.
The bottom line is they continue to, at least, attempt to return, which they have to. There may never be a time that is “safe”. We don’t know what the future holds, so attempting to wait for vaccines that might not work as hoped or for the virus to just go away could be futile gestures.
The NHL needs to come back more than most sports. They dont have the financial backing to fully withstand this and not have it completely affect their abilty to build teams and put a great product out there.
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that players testing positive get healthy and those that want to play can. The league is not penalizing players that opt out, so they are covered too.