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NHL, players’ union announce plan to resume play on Aug. 1

The two sides reached a tentative agreement to return to play this season and extend their collective bargaining agreement.
A look out to the ice from the Zamboni doors at Amalie Arena on Thursday, June 4, 2020 in Tampa. The NHL and NHLPA came to a tentative agreement to resume the season on Aug. 1.
A look out to the ice from the Zamboni doors at Amalie Arena on Thursday, June 4, 2020 in Tampa. The NHL and NHLPA came to a tentative agreement to resume the season on Aug. 1. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jul. 6, 2020
Updated Jul. 6, 2020

The NHL and players association completed the final negotiations needed to restart the season on Monday. The two parties came to a tentative agreement on an extension to the CBA.

Now, the league’s board of governors and the NHLPA’s full membership have to vote to ratify that agreement.

If both sides vote yes (two-thirds of owners and a simple majority of players), training camps will start July 13 and games will begin in Toronto and Edmonton on Aug. 1, starting with the qualifying round and then heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Related: What we know about the NHL's plan to return to play

The pause will have lasted 142 days. Last year’s offseason was 112 days.

The agreed-upon CBA looks mostly like what was reported last week, but for tweaks to the rule on frontloaded contracts and the minimum salary for next season, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports.

This new CBA is technically an extension of the current deal, but with pertinent changes. It will go through the 2025-26 season.

The best news for fans, other than a resumption date for this season, is the return of the NHL players to the Olympics. The league will make its players available for the 2022 and 2026 Games, pending negotiation with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympics Committee.

Most of the details of the agreement deal with the financials.

· The salary cap will be fixed at $81.5 million (this season’s figure) until hockey-related revenue returns to $4.8 billion (the amount projected for this season before the pandemic). Then the cap will be calculated using a new formula to address the difference between projection and realized revenue.

· The amount withheld from players’ paychecks to maintain the 50/50 revenue split between owners and players was a major issue for players. They now have to repay a debt to the owners due to this year’s loss of revenue and address future seasons. The amount subtracted and held in escrow has now been capped at 20 percent for next year, 14 to 18 percent the following season, then 10 percent and six percent the remaining six years of the CBA.

Related: What is the NHL's escrow system and why is it relevant right now?

· Players will also defer 10 percent of their salary, including signing bonuses which are so popular because of their different calculating, for the 2020-21 season. It will be paid back to the players over three seasons from 2023 to 2026.

The high escrow amount and salary deferral will help with teams’ cash flow after this year’s revenue hit.

· All no-trade and no-move clauses will have to be honored by the new team in the event of a trade. Previously, a player could waive the clause to move from Team A to Team B, then Team B could void the clause and trade him again to Team C. That might make players with such clauses, which includes most of the Lightning’s roster, harder to trade.

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· The draft lottery part II will take place on Aug. 10. The eight teams eliminated in the qualifying round will all have an equal shot at the first overall pick, and thus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere. The Lightning are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, so are not part of this pool. The draft will be in mid-October, after the Stanley Cup is awarded.

· Free agency will open on Nov. 1. Traditionally, that happens on July 1, shortly after the draft.

Contact Diana C. Nearhos at dnearhos@tampabay.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.