By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
For most of the last few weeks, the discussions around the NHL’s return to play have revolved around finances. The NHL was asking the players to defer more money and increase escrow caps, a request that blindsided the players. The 2020-21 season was starting to feel bleak as the NHL's original target start date of Jan. 1 was no longer a reality.
In recent days, the discussions had shifted to the other logistics of actually having a season and even started drafting a 56-game schedule with a target start date of mid-January. It was certainly a step in the right direction, but the financial aspects of returning still loomed.
It appears that finally, there is some significant progress in negotiations and some of the other things being discussed between the two sides may soon come to fruition.
According to reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed that the economic framework of the CBA agreed upon in June will not change. The report also states that as of Sunday, the players were willing to defer more money in exchange for future considerations, but no deal was reached and both sides agreed to move on.
Now, both sides shift focus to planning out a season and everything that will go with it, including training camp start dates, opt-out policies, COVID-19 testing and protocols, schedules, playoff structures, and realigned divisions.
The target start date for the season for both sides is tentatively Jan. 13 with training camps started on Dec. 28 for the seven teams that missed the playoffs last season and Jan. 1 for the others. It appears that there will be no exhibition games leading up to the season.
Any agreements would need to be voted on and approved by the Board of Governors and the players. The goal for both sides would be to finalize return plans by the end of the week in an effort to make the target date possible.
There are a lot of things still to consider, but the move from financial discussions to actual concrete details about how to pull off the 2020-21 season are a step in the right direction. Perhaps soon enough, there will be much more to look forward to as a 2020-21 season becomes a reality.