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N.H.L. Owners and Players Approve New C.B.A. and Return-to-Play Plan

  • July 11, 2020

The N.H.L. considered shortening the conference quarterfinals and semifinals so families could arrive sooner, but Mathieu Schneider, a special assistant with the union, said players largely rejected that idea.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that testing would be constant. Daly said there were no “hard and fast numbers” that would lead the league to alter or shut down play, but that it would rely on the advice of medical professionals and experts.

Williams expressed concern earlier in the week about the possibility of a disruption in play and the virus’s potential impact on competition.

“What if there’s an outbreak on the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 and seven of us or 10 of us can’t play?” Williams said. “What happens to the team? Is it a forfeit? Do we wait a couple weeks?”

Eastern Conference clubs will travel to Toronto, and Western Conference teams will head to Edmonton on July 26. (The Canadian government waived the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for players and staff crossing the border from the United States.) Edmonton, which had 203 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Friday, will host both conference finals series, as well as the Stanley Cup finals.

The games will be played without fans, but the broadcasts of the games may include simulated noise and other adaptations.

“We have some very special things planned. You’ll just have to wait to see them,” Bettman said.

With the N.H.L. facing an enormous budget shortfall because of the pandemic, the agreement keeps the salary cap at its current level, $81.5 million, through next season. Ten percent of player salaries will be deferred, and 20 percent will be placed in escrow — an increase of more than 50 percent from this season’s escrow payments.

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