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Lightning Round: New details emerge for the potential CBA and Return to Play plan

St. Louis Blues are forced to close facilities due to COVID-19 positive tests.

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Edmonton Oilers

Ten days before the potential opening of training camps the NHL and the NHLPA are still in talks regarding a new collective bargaining agreement and protocols for Phase 3 and 4 of the NHL’s Return to Play plan. On Friday Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet revealed some new details on what it might look like. However, given how the things developed before, it still can change.

Friedman basically confirmed what we already knew before: the salary cap for the 2020-21 season will be set at $81.5 million, cap on escrow is 20 percent next season and it should drop to 14-18 per cent for the 2021-22 season and to 10 percent a year later. A further 10 percent of salary will be deferred to next season and will be repaid during final years of the CBA.

The Olympic participation in 2022 and 2026 still depends on the agreement with the IOC. There are also new modifications which were revealed yesterday:

• No-move and no-trade clauses now travel with a player who has agreed to lift one, even if they haven’t kicked in (previously, the acquiring team had to agree).

• Players aged 35 and over can sign multi-year deals that are flat or ascending and there will be no cap hit if they retire before the deal is up (previously, the cap hit stayed no matter what).

• Year-by-year variability: six-year contracts that are front-loaded and worth at least 7.5 per cent of the cap cannot exceed 35 per cent between the highest and lowest salary amounts. Rules for other contracts remain the same (I’ve heard players and teams will consider back-loading new contracts because escrow is capped at a lower number and cash flow should improve for clubs).

• No changes to signing bonuses

Before the last month there was a lot of information about players who are not very comfortable with returning to play at this point, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and potential damages which the disease can cause to the human body. The league will allow to opt out without penalty. For those who will still decide to go to hub cities, the league will provide strict rules, including daily tests, mandatory face covering in the bubble and social distancing.

Bob McKenzie of the TSN has provided a timeline of negotiations between NHL and NHLPA and important dates for the rest of the 2019-20 season. By the time I was writing this article, both sides were probably still in talks.

Meanwhile sources reported that the St. Louis Blues have closed their facilities due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests. The Tampa Bay Lightning were forced to do the same thing in June, and their facilities stayed closed for five days.

The Blues used the ice at Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights, Mo., on Thursday, but did not hold their Phase 2 workouts as scheduled on Friday. They would not have practiced as a team Saturday or Sunday, but the facility has been deemed closed for any individual players who planned to train there over the weekend. The club is expected to resume practices on Monday.

Reportedly the Florida Panthers terminated access to the team’s facilities for the South Florida Hockey Academy after their former players Olli Jokinen, Radek Dvorak and Tomas Vokoun declined the offer to purchase an Academy.

To be distracted from serious reading about the current NHL agenda, I highly recommend you to read an article about a small town in Czech Republic which recently became a Czech hockey factory

You probably haven’t heard much about it. The population of Litvinov is fewer than 25,000 people. It’s a modest place, a blue-collar town most notable in the Czech Republic for two reasons: It’s the site of the biggest oil refinery in the country and a traditional hotbed for a particular type of high-octane attacking hockey.