Friday was a good day for hockey. The NHL and the AJLNH announced the finalization of a “return to the game” for this summer in order to conclude the 2019-2020 season, as well as an extension of their collective agreement.
With that, the league was ready to drop the playoff dates that will feature the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
All games will come from Toronto, assuming the league is able to get everyone there and protect everyone from the virus that has radically changed their lives in the past four months. Unprecedented times would mean the first significant games in August in the history of Pens.
… And take a look at the date of the fourth game, Sidney Crosby’s 33rd birthday. If it has to be a special event, you will almost certainly understand that a player who enjoyed the highlights would have something up his sleeve.
It’s hard not to get a little excited, though the odds are still high that the league can do it all. They have a plan, now let’s see how much it is executed. Here is more calendar.
July 13: opening of training camp
July 28-30: Exhibition games
August 1: Penguins against Canadiens
August 10 *: Phase 2 of the NHL draw
August 11: Round 1
August 25 *: Tour 2
September 8 *: Conference final
September 22 *: Stanley Cup Final
October 9-10 *: NHL Draft
– Penguins de Pittsburgh (@penguins) 11 juillet 2020
July 13 is Monday when the paddocks and all other members of the league will meet for full team training camps. They have been skating and training in small groups since mid-June, with most team members returning to the Burgh if they had quarantined elsewhere.
This does not leave much time before leaving for Toronto and the isolation of the central city before one or two exhibition games starting on July 28.
But any player who feels inclined will be officially able to skip this summer’s games without penalty.
Players will have until 5 p.m. ET Monday to exercise their right without penalty to opt out of the 2019-2020 RTP. Must do so in writing to NHLPA and NHL Central Registry.
– Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 10, 2020
The pens have indicated that they expect everyone who can play to want it. Even 67-year-old assistant coach Jacques Martin had the opportunity to change his placement, but made it clear that he wanted to coach the bench as usual. 71-year-old general manager Jim Rutherford recently said that he was undecided and hadn’t given much thought to whether he would accompany his team to Pittsburgh and go in isolation with them, or work from home in Pittsburgh and would watch from a distance.
We’ll see if anyone changes their minds, but given the “hockey culture”, it’s hard to imagine a player denying the opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup this summer, even if it comes with risks. unprecedented and unprecedented.
The other critical point is that the NHL will have peace of work for the next six years, marking the first time in his 27-year reign that Gary Bettman has successfully extended a work deal with players without interruption of play due to a lockout or strike. In many ways, the parties had no choice but to realize that they were in the same boat and that it was in their best interests to work together. There are reports that some owners and players are unhappy, which probably means it’s a good compromise. The global economy has been shaken by the pandemic and wages are linked to hockey-related revenues which will also take a big hit in 2020. It will be painful for everyone, whether you are a homeowner, a player or probably even just read these words. It’s life.
So, with enthusiasm, but still with concern about the unknown, the NHL will go ahead and hope to be able to resume hockey from August onwards as it seeks to get out of it all.