June 29, 2020

NHL Roundup: 15 more players test positive for COVID-19 and CBA concerns could cancel the season

More NHL positive COVID-19 cases (FTHN Edit)

According to the NHL’s Public Relations Department, over 250 players have been tested over 1400 times for COVID-19 during Phase 2 protocols. The testing found 15 coronavirus positive players to add to the 11 they had on June 8th, outside of the Phase 2 protocols.

We know that those 11 players included Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and three members of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The total count is now up to 26 players. The NHL will not release players names.

NHL statement positive cases for COVID-19

At this time, no changes have been made to the schedule for Phase 3 training camps expected to start on July 10th. While that may still happen, the July 30th start date for actual games is in jeopardy for a number of reasons. The biggest issue may not be the virus but the CBA.

Voting on the CBA

Bettman looking to get NHL back but more roadblocks appear (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Coronavirus issues aside, the NHL has to work out a CBA extension. This has already been a little contentious with New York Rangers superstar, Artemi Panarin asking players to not return unless the escrow is fixed. Not all players feel that way, but they still need to settle on a flat cap of $81.5M for the next two seasons. That means top teams that rely on that cap raising annually to sign or retain players will be in a bind.

The goal is to work all the details out and vote for it by the end of the week. Should this drag into deep next week, the dates for Phases 3 and 4 will need to be amended. Or worst yet, the NHL season could still be cancelled.

No NHL hub city announcement yet

Finally, we were expecting an announcement on NHL Hub Cities last week. Unfortunately, Vancouver broke down and the league doesn’t expect to make an announcement until maybe Wednesday. The lead cities, stop me if you heard me say this before…Vegas and Toronto.

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