It was announced over the weekend that the NHL will be returning soon in a 24-team playoff format. The Chicago Blackhawks are apart of those 24-teams.
The NHL is closer to returning, but things aren’t quite there yet. As reported by SportsNet, and others, the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has agreed to “further negotiations” with the NHL on the 24-team that would bring the 2019-2020 season back.
But what is being negotiated?
SportsNet had reported a variety of issues that have been brought forward, critically will be testing for COVID-19, but also things such as visas and where games will be played.
This can’t be all they’re talking about though. Those issues don’t just involve the players. You’d have to think that there would be discussions of contracts, and for a variety of reasons.
First of all, the upcoming draft is postponed. There was a lot of talk about the draft happening in June. NBC had reported that the date might even be June 5th. That’s just around the corner, but there hasn’t been much news on that front. Is this going to be something that comes up?
Second, free agency in the NHL starts July 1st. Contracts always matter for players and organizations. This year, there will be some big names available.
A lot of these players would like to knew where they’ll be playing next year sooner rather than later.
Finally, with the prospect of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) needing to be signed soon, maybe players could be using a return to play as leverage for the impending negotiations?
Back in September, the NHLPA put out a tweet confirming that the league and the player’s association agreed to wait until the end of the 2021-2022 season to sit down at the negotiating table.
So what does that mean?
As CBS reported:
"“In the simplest of language, the NHL will avoid the possibility of a lockout until at least 2023, when a new CBA will need to be signed. Both sides will continue to operate under the current CBA for the next three years, though they can continue discussions to amend and tweak the labor agreement in the meantime. ”"
Now, all of a sudden we find ourselves amid some very extraordinary circumstances. Maybe those “tweaks” could be taking place right now during the discussions about returning play this year.
I would love it if we could avoid a lockout, but the Blackhawks won the cup the last time that happened, so maybe it’s not so bad.
Hopefully, a lot of this will be sorted out quickly. Everyone probably wants a clear answer on these issues so they can plan accordingly.
All this waiting is tough, but the Blackhawks will take to the ice again soon!