It took longer than some would have liked it to but the NHL and NHLPA announced a Memorandum of Understanding for a new four year CBA extension.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 6, 2020
NHL and NHLPA Announce New CBA
The new CBA will run through the 2025-26 season adding four years to the current CBA which was set to expire at the end of the 2021-22 season. There is a provision in the agreement for a one-year extension if more than $125 million in escrow is owed to the league. In addition, the salary cap for the 2020-21 season will be $81.5 million. Both parties expect the salary cap to remain at that number for a couple of years to make up for the lost revenue during the COVID pandemic. The NHL and NHLPA believe once revenues hit $4.8 billion, the cap will go up again. Once they get to that point the league will use the 2020-21 revenues to calculate the cap number for the 2022-23 ceiling.
Return to Play
Easily the most notable part of this agreement is the dates set for the Return to Play plan. Three dates have been officially solidified for Phases Three and Four.
- July 13: Teams start formal training camps. (Start of Phase Three)
- July 26: Teams travel to Hub Cities.
- August 1: Start of the Qualifying Round. Hockey is back. (Start of Phase Four)
One of the biggest sticking points for the players was escrow. It appears that has been solved as the sides agreed to cap escrow at 20 percent for the 2020-21 season. From there it only goes down. It is estimated escrow will be between 14-18 percent in 2021-22. Then it will go down to 10 percent in 2022-23. During the final three years of the agreement, escrow will be capped at six percent. If there is an extension, the escrow cap will be nine percent. As part of the agreement, players will defer 10 percent of the salaries next season. That money will be paid back during the final three years of the CBA. This is a significant win for the players.
Another piece the players got back in this new CBA is Olympic Participation. For the first time since the 2014 Sochi Olympics, there will be NHL participation. Pending a negotiation with the IIHF and IOC, the NHL will send its players to 2022 Beijing and 2026 Milan Olympics.
NHL and NHLPA Harmony
Even before the NHL had to suspend its season due to COVID-19, the NHL and NHLPA were engaging in new CBA talks. This pandemic only helped to bring these two sides together even more. There is much more harmony between the league and the Players Association. Prior to this agreement, the NHL and NHLPA had a players strike, and three owners lockouts to get new CBAs ratified. The second lockout forced the NHL to cancel the 2004-05 season. But now, the game has never been in a better place. Both sides know if they had another lockout it could hurt the game even more.
With more hockey-related revenue expected to come thanks to the Seattle expansion and the new US television and digital deals, both parties knew it was essential to get a deal done now. There was a lot of effort put in by both parties to make sure a deal was in place. Not to mention the protocols for the players to return to the ice.
Other Notable Items:
- The Playoff bonus money is doubling from $16 million to 32 million. A player that on a team that loses in the play-in round will receive $20,000. Players in each round will see a bonus increase from there. Players that win the Stanley Cup will receive $240,000.
- All no-trade and no-move clauses will travel with the player in a trade, even if the player is traded before the clause kicks in.
- Any player 35 and over can sign multi-year deals that are flat or ascending. If that player chooses to retire be the deal is up there will be no cap hit. Prior to the new CBA, the cap hit stayed no matter what).
- No changing in signing bonuses
- The minimum NHL salary will be $750,000 going to $800,000 by the end of the new CBA.
- Players who play in Europe will no longer require waivers to come back to the NHL, provided they sign their NHL contract by Dec. 15. Previously if a player had played in Europe they needed to clear waivers to come back into the NHL.
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