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NHL, NHLPA tentatively agree on CBA extension, return-to-play plan

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association reached a tentative agreement on a memorandum of understanding for a new collective bargaining agreement Monday, paving the way for the league to resume its season.

The agreement must be approved by the Board of Governors and the executive committee of the NHLPA before going to a vote by the full membership.

“The respective review and approval processes will take place over the next few days, and there will be no further comment until those processes are completed,” the league and players association said in a joint statement.

The extension to the CBA adds an additional four years through 2025-26 and includes transition rules and a new critical dates calendar.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to the Review-Journal on Sunday the sides agreed to the protocols for the league’s return-to-play plan.

The NHL paused its season March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the CBA agreement, the league announced that formal training camp would begin July 13 after being tentatively scheduled to start Friday.

Teams will arrive in their assigned hub city July 26, and the qualifying round is slated to begin Aug. 1. Rosters will consist of no more than 31 players.

Players can opt out of participating in the 24-team tournament and must notify their team in writing within 72 hours of the completion of the ratification process.

The Golden Knights and other Western Conference teams reportedly will play their games in Edmonton, Alberta, while Toronto is expected to host the Eastern Conference.

Las Vegas was one of the 10 finalists to serve as a hub city before the NHL’s reported shift toward Canada. Clark County saw a surge in new COVID-19 cases during the preceding week.

The Knights earned a bye in the qualifying round and will face St. Louis, Colorado and Dallas in a round robin to determine the top four seeds in the Western Conference.

The NHL is in Phase Two of its return-to-play plan, with players voluntarily skating in small groups at team facilities. The league announced Monday that 23 of the 396 players have tested positive for COVID-19 with an additional 12 players testing positive outside of the Phase Two protocols.

The new CBA reportedly will keep the salary cap frozen at $81.5 million for at least next season. The salary cap, which is directly tied to hockey-related revenue, won’t change until revenue returns to $4.8 billion, according to TSN.

The Knights are projected to have a little less than $7 million in cap space for 2020-21 with two pending restricted free agents (forwards Nick Cousins and Chandler Stephenson) along with four unrestricted free agents (forward Tomas Nosek, defensemen Deryk Engelland and Jon Merrill, and goaltender Robin Lehner).

Escrow, the portion of each player’s paycheck withheld to ensure a 50-50 revenue split with owners, will be capped at 20 percent for 2020-21. Players also will defer 10 percent of their salary next season to help repay owners, and that will be repaid over the final three years of the CBA.

The deal also would allow NHL players to participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the 2026 Milan Olympics pending a deal with the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation.

One item that wasn’t cleared up in the agreement is whether Jack Dugan is eligible to participate for the Knights in the postseason.

A source indicated that Dugan, the NCAA’s leading scorer this season, would not be able to play but could be allowed to sign and burn the first year of his two-year, entry-level contract.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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