NHL updates Return to Play schedule as CBA vote looms

By Anthony Scultore
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As more players return from across the globe to participate in Phase 3 training camps, the NHL is aggressively working with the NHL Players Association on a deal to provide hockey this season. In fact, the NHL is so eager to return that it’s working through the Fourth of July holiday to hammer it out.

Key dates for NHL’s return-to-play schedule

While the NHL slowly continues to move forward with its schedule amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, a significant number of players have already tested positive for the virus. Meanwhile, with the health crisis becoming a greater issue, some players are expected to opt-out of the NHL’s return.

Despite the hurdles it is facing, the NHL is pressing forward. As TSN’s Bob McKenzie detailed in the league’s “tentative” schedule, key dates are be setting for the NHL’s return but these points can change depending on the severity of the pandemic and how it impacts the league.

  • Phase 3 Training Camp: July 13
  • Arrive at Hub City: ~July 26
  • Phase 4 Qualifying Round: August 1
  • Draft Lottery Phase 2: ~August 10
  • Award Stanley Cup: Early October
  • NHL Draft: Mid-October
  • Start of Free Agency: November 1

All NHL players will vote on new deal

While the dates are tentatively set, the NHL still needs to figure out its collective-bargaining agreement with the NHLPA. While discussions are ongoing, there seems to be very little concern from the league and its owners. However, players from all 31 teams will be voting on this deal and that requires more time for all parties to approve the plan.

Although it is expected to pass, a seed of doubt always remains. Let’s not forget that just last week, Artemi Panarin of the Rangers told players not to return to camp until a fair escrow deal was reached. Hockey seems closer but is still a ways away.