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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association finally made it official.
There will be hockey this summer.
After a nearly four-month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides came to an agreement Friday evening and ratified a four-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement through the 2025-26 season, along with making the NHL’s ‘Return to Play’ plan official.
For the Calgary Flames, it means their best-of-five series against the Winnipeg Jets to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs is a go — and will kick off on Aug. 1 with Game 1 at the Edmonton hub location.
“It certainly feels like it’s moving forward,” said Flames general manager Brad Treliving, whose club will play Games 2 and 3 on Aug. 3 and 4, respectively. “We’ve been planning for it all along. This was a big hurdle in a long process, so it’s good to have that ratified by both sides and we’ll keep moving forward.”
In a release sent out by the NHL, the agreement indicated the conference finals and Stanley Cup final will be staged at Edmonton’s Rogers Place. Meanwhile, each team will be permitted to bring a maximum of 52 individuals into the secure zones — or ‘bubble’ — in the hub cities, including a maximum of 31 players.
When Phase 4 kicks off, each of the 52 members of club personnel will be tested daily for COVID-19, as well as being administered daily temperature checks and symptom screenings.
Reports suggested that nearly 79 per cent of NHLPA membership voted in favour of the new CBA and ‘Return to Play’ program.
Given the uncertain business climate presented by the global pandemic along with the cloudiness of the future, Treliving is pleased with the news.
“To get a CBA done in this environment that we’ve all been living in, uncertain times and all the stuff that’s been going on,” he said. “You really think about it, since there’s been a pause in play, we’ve gotten a CBA extension and ‘Return to Play’ plan put together in a time when there’s so much uncertainty. A lot of days (through the COVID-19 pandemic), you were wondering ‘What is going on (in the world)?’
“I think (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman, (deputy commissioner) Bill Daly and all the people at the league and the PA should be commended on the work that’s been done and to get us to this point.”
A critical dates calendar was also released, which included details of the 2020 NHL Draft that was postponed from this past June to Oct. 9 and 10.
The Stanley Cup will be awarded at the beginning of October while the 2020-21 season will begin in December.
“There’s going to be a lot going on in a short period of time,” Treliving said. “It’s taking small bites here, our focus is getting ready for Monday (the start of training camp) and going through camp and getting ready. But from basically the beginning of October through Dec. 1, there’s going to be a lot going on. You just familiarize yourself with what is going to happen, be prepared and execute.”
Up next is the start of Monday’s training camp at Scotiabank Saddledome and Phase 3 of the NHL’s ‘Return to Play’ plan.
“It’s all the same things that have to happen (like normal seasons), but they’re at a different time of the year and they’re in really rapid succession,” Treliving said. “It’s good to know exactly what those dates are now so you can prepare.
“But we’re ready.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020