OK, let us forget about the financial issues of the NHL Return and talk about the actual framework for the 2020-21 NHL season, at least for a moment. The National Hockey League moved past the dollars to present the first real season proposal of the 2021 NHL Return’s new discussions to Play.
Friday morning, the NHL presented a 56-game schedule to the NHLPA, according to TSN reporter Frank Seravalli.
Drafts were based on Jan. 1 start date, but sides discussed pushing that back (Jan. 15 or 16?).
Told talks were unrelated to recent economic requests.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 4, 2020
The hope is, or was, for a Jan. 1 start date, but according to Seravalli, the two sides have acquiesced to reality and are looking at a Jan. 15-16 start date.
Via Twitter, Seravalli rightly commented this should be viewed as a positive development.
The NHL does have some time constraints as U.S. TV rights holder NBC owns the rights to the Olympic Games, which begin on July 15. NBC uses all of its television properties to broadcast the games, which means there would be no room for NHL playoff games beyond mid-July.
In recent weeks, the NHL and NHLPA have wrangled over economic issues, which were thought to be solved in late May as part of the recent CBA and NHL Return to Play agreement. Initially, the NHLPA agreed to a 20% escrow (which was expected to go exclusively to the owners) and a 13% salary deferral. The salary cap is to remain flat until the NHLPA repays the economic losses of last season and this coming season to NHL owners.
However, in recent weeks, the NHL owners through NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, have sought to revise those terms and asked for an additional 13% deferral, upping the deferred salaries to 26%. PittsburghHockeyNow and the Hockey Now network confirmed the additional deferral request.
Reportedly, owners also asked to raise the escrow to 25%. Bettman said it was incorrect or “inaccurate” to say the NHL sought to renegotiate the new CBA. Though, he admitted the league was seeking to revise the terms.
“If we have to pay out lots of cash — two-thirds of which is going to come back to us — that will cause some stresses, but we can, or we will have to deal with it if we’re going to move forward,” Bettman told the Sports Business Journal’s Dealmakers in Sport panel.
VHN and the Hockey Now network will have more in the coming days, including a near guarantee from a league executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, that there would be a season.
As far as the January 15 start date, I have thoughts on that in my podcast here – please subscribe for fresh hockey content two to three times per week!
We will have more details on the potential NHL Return in the coming hours and days.