One hundred and twenty days after the NHL closed up shop in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears as though hockey is finally back on the horizon.
The NHL and NHLPA officially ratified both a “Return to Play” plan to close out the 2019-20 season and a four-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (through 2025-26) on Friday night — guaranteeing labor peace through the 2025-26 season.
While many of the details surrounding both the league’s return for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the fiscal standing of the league in the coming years have been reported on for most of the last week or so — Friday’s news officially put the gears in motion for a revamped playoff tournament this summer and fall, with teams expected to begin training camp on Monday at their respective training facilities.
“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 in a league statement. "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.”
Once Phase 4 (return to play) is officially enacted,