The NHL took another step toward a return to the ice late on Tuesday night when the Executive Board of the NHL Players’ Association approved the tentative agreement between the league and its union.
The NHLPA's Executive Board has approved the tentative CBA and referred it to the NHLPA Membership for a ratification vote. pic.twitter.com/nqDpMpZYbd— NHLPA (@NHLPA) July 8, 2020
There are still two steps to go. The NHLPA Executive Board now opens up the memorandum of understanding to its full membership. Every player will have a vote. The NHL Board of Governors also must approve the MOU.
If that happens? We will have hockey soon – barring the coronavirus pandemic wrecking things as it has for months.
Players will report to their team facilities by July 13 for training camps as the league attempts to execute its return-to-play plan. Twenty-four teams will travel to the two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton, on July 26 for round-robin games, qualifying playoff games and the full 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs.
There is no set date for when owners must approve the memorandum, but players are expected to be finished their vote by next Monday in time for training camps.
The Capitals are set to play the Bruins, Flyers and Lightning in a round-robin tournament for seeding in the Eastern Conference. The defending champion Blues, Oilers, Avalanche and Golden Knights will do the same in the Western Conference.
The 16 other teams that will continue play have a best-of-five preliminary round to whittle the Stanley Cup field to its usual 16 teams playing best-of-seven series.
The agreement also extends the current Collective Bargaining Agreement until at least 2026, buying labor peace the NHL has rarely found with its players. It also opens the door to Winter Olympics participation in Beijing (2022) and Milan (2026).
Now, we wait for the next two crucial votes and hockey will be in sight.
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