November 24, 2020

NHL News and Notes: Players test positive for COVID-19, CBA dispute threatens 2020-21 season

Bettman has his hands full (NHLI)

The NHL and NHLPA haven’t met since the league asked the players to reopen the CBA they just signed four months ago. Changes to escrow is what the owners want and the players aren’t interested.

If that wasn’t enough, two teams have a rash of positive cases that all threaten the 2020-21 NHL season.

NHL News: Golden Knights and Blue Jackets have significant positive cases

TSN’s Frank Seravalli is reporting that at least 4 Vegas players have tested positive for COVID-19. The belief is that the number is more and includes some of the players family members.

“Adding context: should be noted that at minimum four VGK players have confirmed cases,” he tweeted. “Sources indicate the number may be higher; team confirmed only four positive tests today. In addition, sources say multiple family members of VGK players have also tested positive.”

Later in the day, Seravalli reported a “significant” amount of Blue Jackets players also tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days. It is expected that more NHL players will likely be added to this count before the season starts…if it starts.

nhl season news
NHL season in jeopardy (SI.com)

NHL News: CBA Dispute

Former NHL player and TV Analyst, Nick Kypreos is reporting that the league and players association did not meet this weekend. This is the first time both sides have not spoken in weeks and could spell a big delay.

The repercussions of the two sides failing to make any progress could also mean a regular season of just 48 games. If you recall, the last proposal was to start on or around January 1 for a 60 game schedule.

According to a player agent, he feels the pressure is all on Gary Bettman to get a deal done. “The players have the leverage because at the end of the day, Gary Bettman has to preserve the integrity of the game and they have to play a season — whatever it looks like,” the agent told The Province’s Ben Kuzma. “Because if they don’t, it’s really going to damage the brand.”

The NHL is now in a race against time as they need to get a deal done by the end of the month. With spikes in COVID-19 directly impacting players and their families the urgency just increased. A start of January is imperative so the NHL can deal with the inevitable postponements the league will face.

If the league and the NHLPA are at a standstill, a February start increases. It also limits flexibility which could lead to a cancelled season regardless of their desire to play.

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