NHL general managers won’t be doing much, if any, talking about Friday’s conference call with the league on which the terrain for the 2020-21 season was discussed, because they were advised on the call not to comment.
But no such gag order has been placed on The Post, so here is a review of issues taken up on the call, per a source:
— The NHL is still aiming for a Jan. 1 start, even though the scheduled New Year’s Day Winter Classic at Minnesota has been canceled.
The objective remains to play a full 82-game season with full arenas, but the league understands that is not likely. The NHL is monitoring the state of COVID-19, travel restrictions between the United States and Canada and within the U.S., and regulations concerning indoor mass gatherings. In other words, which teams would be allowed to have fans in arenas, and how many?
A shorter schedule and the possibility of starting the season in a limited number of “hub cities” would require authorization from the NHL and the NHLPA. These would not be “bubbles” à la Edmonton and Toronto this past season. Players and staff would not be segregated from polite society, but rather would be expected to follow yet-to-be negotiated protocols as, say, MLB players during their 2020 season.
Groups of teams would be sent to designated hub cities to compete for two-to-three weeks, and then shuttle home for a week or so of practice before their next assignment. The idea would be to play a portion of the schedule under this format before evolving to a more typical schedule once (or if) fans are permitted in a substantial number of NHL arenas.
Geographical realignment, including the creation of a Canadian Division, is a possibility.
— Training camp would be 14 days and include a maximum of 35 players (skaters plus goaltenders).
A nine-day conditioning camp including up to 35 players (skaters and goaltenders) for draft selections, entry-level players and tryouts, may be scheduled prior to camp. Players participating in conditioning camp must also be invited to the main camp.
The seven clubs that did not make the 24-team summer tournament, and thus have not been on the ice since the mid-March pause of the 2019-20 season, will be granted an additional week-to-10 days of camp.
The plan is to play three or four exhibition games per team.
— Team practice facilities are currently allowed to be open under Phase 2 regulations. The NHLPA is asking that up to 12 players be permitted on the ice at the same time.
Teams are required to test players twice a week during this voluntary phase, with clubs and league personnel advising players that they should use their respective teams’ facilities — and not public rinks — once “in market.”
Relatively few players, however, are “in-market,” with most remaining at home until definitive training-camp dates are set. The Post has been told that several teams have not opened their facilities.
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