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NHL and NHLPA have tentative deal on 56-game season

The NHL and NHLPA have reached a tentative deal on a 56-game season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has learned.

A conference call will be held by the NHLPA on Friday to discuss the proposal. The NHL’s board of governors will also hold a call regarding the agreement, likely on either Sunday or Monday. Both the players’ association and the board still must vote to ratify the deal before it becomes official.

The tentative agreement calls for no exhibition games to be played, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported, meaning the NHL will go directly from the off-season and training camps into regular season games.

As has been previously reported, the plan would be to start the season on Jan. 13, though the date is not finalized. This hope aligns with the NHL’s prior plan, which included the mid-January start date. Under the new agreement, training camps will start on Dec. 30 for non-playoff teams and Jan. 3 for playoff teams.

The deal does not currently include a resolution to where Canadian teams will be playing. Provincial COVID-19 restrictions have complicated the NHL’s bid to conduct an all-Canadian division comprised of Canada’s seven clubs. If games cannot be played in Canada, the NHL has considered a plan that would see Canada’s teams play their seasons in the United States.

At the conclusion of the 56-game regular season, the top four teams in each division will make the playoffs, Friedman reported. Each division will produce a champion for the Stanley Cup semifinals.

As Johnston noted, if the necessary hurdles are cleared to create an all-Canadian division, this arrangement would guarantee a Canadian team reaches the final four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In addition to the scheduling decisions, the agreement features at least three roster-related elements as well. Friedman reported that there will be no proration of salaries, teams will have a four-to-six player taxi squad, and teams will have the option to “toll” the contracts of players who opt out of the season — meaning a player who has one year left on their contract would stay with that team for the remaining term.

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