Gino Reda and TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie discuss the latest on the NHL / NHLPA negotiations, including the return to play tentative target dates, and when Free Agent Frenzy could begin. Bob also has the latest on which Canadian city could be hosting both the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

Reda: News has been breaking on an almost-daily basis and the man breaking most of that news is our very own hockey insider Bob McKenzie. Alright, Bob. What’s the latest on all of the negotiations and the Return to Play?

  • McKenzie: Well, Gino. As we speak, the negotiations between the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association are continuing. And they are trying to finalize today (July 2) if possible. And I believe there’s a legitimate chance that could happen. They’re trying to finalize a tentative agreement. Not only on the Phase 3 and the opening up of training camps, but also the Phase 4 play-in games and all of those Return-to-Play protocols, as well as a whole new collective bargaining agreement extension on top of transition rules and critical dates going forward. (A) massive amount of information to process. And if they get it signed off on here, I would expect a joint announcement from the NHL and NHLPA and that would allow them then to begin the ratification process. For the players that might take two or three days. So, it might be early next week before the player and the board of governors have signed off on this. And as we have reported earlier, Toronto and Edmonton are fully expected to be the hub cities for this event. There’s a strong belief that Edmonton would get the Stanley Cup Final portion of this. But that’s not 100 per cent locked down just yet. So, we’ll see what the next (few) hours and days bring on that front.
  • Reda: Alright Bob, so let’s say we do get an agreement signed off in the next few days, give us a sense of a timeline of how you see this all unfolding.

McKenzie: Well, keeping in mind that everything with this is super tentative, I’ve been through collective bargaining negotiations over-and-over again. But nothing has been as fluid where things change minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day. And if the NHL and PA feel like they need to push the targeted or tentative dates back, they’ll push them back with impunity as necessary. But, let’s look at what the starting framework for this would look like:

  • July 13: Beginning of Phase 3. That’s when they’d want the players to report to camp.
  • July 26 or thereabouts: The teams would leave their home cities and go to the two hubs, Toronto and Edmonton for the beginning of Phase 4 on August 1.
  • Aug. 1: Keep in mind, the first part of Phase 4 is the preliminary or qualifier. Best-of-five series.
  • Aug. 10: Remember, the losers of that series go into the (Phase 2) Draft Lottery. On or around August 10 or 11, thereabouts. We could get the Draft Lottery and determine the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.
  • Early October: Then you have the Stanley Cup being presented. Again, it’s target date. That’s what they would like to have happen.
  • Mid-October: The NHL Draft would have to happen quickly after the Stanley Cup is being presented.
  • Nov. 1: And right now, Nov. 1 would be the first day of the business year for the 2020-21 season. And that would be free agent frenzy day. The day after Halloween, Gino. If everything stays to plan.

Reda: Alright, getting back to the awarding of the Stanley Cup. Being in Edmonton or even in Toronto, either way, it will be the first time the Stanley Cup is being awarded on Canadian ice, since the Boston Bruins celebrated in Vancouver (2011).