TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun have the final details on the NHL and NHLPA's formal agreement on Return to Play, the latest on CBA discussions, when player award voting will begin and more.
James Duthie: Gentleman, no more guessing on a playoff format, fill us in on the details.
Pierre LeBrun: Nine days after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced most of this format, there were some open issues still to be resolved, one being if they should go best-of-five or best-of-seven in the opening two rounds. The players on the Return to Play Committee were pushing for best-of-seven, they felt that called into the integrity of a four-round playoff. The players went out on best-of-seven for the opening rounds and best-of-five for the qualifying round. It does add some length to the tournament, it adds a week, if not nine or 10 days more because of the best-of-seven. If one team has to go all the way in each round, between the play-in round and Cup final you could be talking about 33 games potentially over two months for that team. Let’s remember this though, this is still a format agreement, there still has to be a negotiation between the NHLPA and the NHL on Phase 3, which is training camp, and Phase 4 which is the hub cities, protocols for testing and living inside the bubble, that’s going to be a very delegate negotiation and an interesting vote when the NHLPA executive board votes on it.
Duthie: Speaking of delegate negotiation, where are we at with the CBA?
Darren Dreger: Talks are intensifying between the NHL and the NHLPA, what we know is that a ton of work was done on the CBA prior to the pause. NHL clubs want to know what the salary cap is going to be for 2020-21, is it going to be in the low 80’s as many of us have speculated, that needs to be negotiated. The players want to know what the escrow future is, and what is the escrow stability plan, could it be 20 per cent for the foreseeable future, could it be more than 25 per cent, those are the conversations going on right now – the cap, escrow, hockey-related revenue – but they haven’t really gotten yet into what the terms will be in those talks.
Duthie: How involved will the players be in these talks?
Dreger: Traditionally the players have been involved and that’s not going to change. There is an NHLPA committee being formed – an NHLPA negotiating committee – and we’re told there could be as many as 10 players, could be more, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. We know that commissioner Bettman has his team, likewise for Don Fehr for the NHLPA, but it’s good to have the players' voices and have information to bounce off the players so they can take it to their constituents along the way.
Duthie: The season is officially over - when do get to hear who won the awards?
LeBrun: The voting will start very shortly; I think the ballots will get sent out over the next couple days for the voting of the major player awards. Then it’s a question for the winners of the awards, that decision hasn’t been made yet, but one leading idea is to wait until the games come back, this summer, and over a two-week period announce the player awards one-by-one. They may end up deciding to announce them before the tournament begins, but right now the discussion is focused on announcing them during the actual games to create more spotlight on the winners.