I know many of you out there love to read ALL of a big document, so here is a LONG transcript of a press conference today involving Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, Bill Daly and Mathieu Schneider. It was a Zoom presser to talk about the new four-year extension to the NHL collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA.
Lots of interesting nuggets in here. Happy reading.
GARY BETTMAN: Thank you all for joining us. As John Dellapina said, I’m joined by Don Fehr, Bill Daly and Mathieu Schneider.
I think it’s important in terms of setting the framework to understand a little bit about how we got to where we are. In the days leading up to March 12th when we took the pause because of COVID-19, we, the league and the Players’ Association, were in constant communication, particularly when we got to March 12th when we decided to take the pause, and that began a period of perhaps unprecedented collaboration and problem solving. I wouldn’t even say it approached a negotiation; it was a recognition by both sides that we were being confronted with an incredibly difficult and novel unprecedented situation, and then to get through it for the good of our constituents and good of the game and for the good of our fans, we needed to work together to solve the myriad of problems that would be in front of us.
That required us to focus on Return to Play, to focus on transitional rules, to focus on protocols, and to focus on an extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that would give us labor peace for an extended period, which turns out to be the next six years, so that we can get through this period with our franchises strong and intact, our game as strong as it can be, being appropriate and fair and protective of our players, because health and safety and everything we discussed is paramount.
That process over the last three months or so led us to the point this week where we could agree on all of those elements and that we think for this game, this league and for our players puts us in the best possible shape that we could be in to confront the challenges of COVID-19, give us an opportunity to complete the ’19-’20 season, and as I said, have labor peace going forward.
I cannot thank Don and Mathieu and Bill enough for everything that went into this process and the people at both organizations that work with all of us on a day-to-day basis. I also want to thank the teams and in particular the NHL owners for their continuous support in reaching this point.
This was not — and just to keep the focus on it, this was not purely about Return to Play. Return to Play is going to be great once we get through it, once we get everybody in the bubble and assuming everybody stays healthy, but this was much more than the Return to Play. As I indicated, it was about maintaining, stabilizing during this time, and focusing on the future of the game.
We’re going to do the very best we can on our Return to Play scenario. We understand that there are risks attendant to it, but as I said before, and I mean it, and all of us mean it, health and safety is the number one priority for our players, for our organizations and for our fans and the communities that we play in.
On that note, with my gratitude, I turn it over to Don Fehr.
DONALD FEHR: Thanks, Gary. I’m going to begin by saying that I agree with a lot of what you just heard from Gary, and I think that it indicates something about the approach that was taken in these talks. We’re living through difficult times, uncertain times. No one knows what the future will bring.
What that meant was that this was not, and for all practical purposes, could not be normal collective bargaining. We explained to the players that there was little that was customary or usual or what would ordinarily have been expected in negotiations. Health and safety, obviously, is the paramount concern, and that’s for everybody: Players, management, support staff, all the vendors, and certainly the fans.
So we viewed the task as trying to identify the difficulties caused by the pandemic, certainly the immediate ones, but looking to the future, to figure out a way to address those issues. We had to do that in a way everybody could agree with – in negotiations, great ideas aren’t worth very much if the other side doesn’t go along with it – and then to set the stage for the recovery when things begin to return to normal.
This is probably not something that a lot of people are going to call a perfect agreement. A lot of people are going to find faults with one thing or another. That’s always the case. And I’m pretty sure there’s going to be unanticipated events and perhaps even unintended consequences. But I do think this agreement meets the challenge, and the next challenge is going to be to implement it both in the short-term and in the long-term, and there’s a lot in this agreement, I think, players can be proud of.
Just a couple of thank-yous before I stop. First to my executive board, all the player reps and alternates, as well as the players who served on the negotiating committee and the return-to-play committee, and the literally hundreds of players who participated in our conference calls since this phase began; my staff, who worked basically without respite for four months to make this happen; but also to Gary, to Bill and to the NHL staff, because we had to work with them, and there had to be a common spirit or we were going to be stuck in this morass.
Negotiations are never easy, and they’re more complicated in the circumstances in which we now live. But all of us I think recognized the singular nature of the crisis and of the issues and the necessity to persevere until we got it done.
Q. Just wondering, was last night the first night you guys got a good night’s sleep, and can you just characterize the grind this has been?
DONALD FEHR: Well, I’ll answer first. I got a better night’s sleep. We’re in the process of shifting to, all right, we have the framework to how are we going to execute it to make sure that it gets done, but I think in the days ahead, it’ll be better. But it’s been a long, long grind, if that’s the implication.
GARY BETTMAN: Actually I agree with Don, but we’re switching from one grind to another. The task of bringing 24 clubs together in two Hubs, putting on as many as three games a day, having the hotel and accompanying setups that we need for the Hubs, making sure the testing and the protocols are adhered to. This is — to quote somebody famous, this is not the beginning of the end; this is the end of the beginning. So we’ve got a lot more work to do.
I think that was Winston Churchill, by the way.
DON FEHR: It was indeed.
Q. For Gary or Bill, with the Return to Play, can you guys expand on what might cause you to consider not going ahead with the tournament? We saw the MLS this week go forward with their summer tournament without two teams. Is that something you would ever consider doing if a team or two was unable to participate?
GARY BETTMAN: I’ll take the quick answer on that and I’ll let Bill fill in. The fact is we’re going to be taking advice from the experts, the medical people in terms of what is and isn’t appropriate as we move forward, understanding that COVID-19 is out there and what the risks are. Bill, do you want to elaborate?
BILL DALY: Nothing more than that. Obviously we’re all living day-to-day here, and we’ll see what happens.
Q. This goes back to the collaboration, and this is for Gary and Don. When did you realize, or at what point did you realize that you needed to work together on this and get your hands around this, and was there ever a moment that you thought you would never get to this day?
GARY BETTMAN: If I can go first, certainly by March 12th, and I believe based on the way we were all interacting and we were problem solving and we were discussing things and modeling things, I believed that we would get to this point because it was the right thing to do for the game and everybody involved with the game.
DONALD FEHR: Yeah, from my standpoint, it’s pretty much the same. I was persuaded well before the end of March that not only was this different, it was being approached in a fundamentally different way. I always thought we would find a way to reach an agreement. I think as many of you know, I don’t predict when or how, but the task was to persevere until we do.
Q. For Gary or Don, one of the questions we keep getting is what the threshold of positive tests for shutting down the restart would be. There’s a cause in Return to Play about a material risk to player health and safety and/or jeopardizing the integrity of the tournament; how would either of you define that? That’s one of the big questions we’re getting a lot from fans.
GARY BETTMAN: Actually I’m going to let Bill answer it.
BILL DALY: You know, again, as Gary alluded to before, in this area, we look to our medical professionals more than anything else as to whether we’re in a high-risk situation. We have been looking toward our medical professionals from the start and experts from the start in terms of where we’re in danger and where we’re not.
I think we have a good handle on a protocol. It’s actually a protocol that was agreed to among the various professional sports leagues and run by the CDC, and it’s gone to the White House, and again, I think one positive test shouldn’t shut down the tournament, but obviously we have to be very cognizant of player health and safety, and if we have an outbreak situation, it turns into a different judgment at the end of the day. There’s no hard-and-fast numbers on that. That’s more a sense of the medical professionals, and we’ll take our lead from them.
Q. I have two questions and they’re somewhat related. We saw in MLB and we’re starting to see in the NFL, the MLB during these talks talked about what was called revenue sharing, what the Union said was a salary cap, which was a no-starter in the NFL. We’re hearing about a 35 percent escrow. We heard some push-back. First of all, my question, you did none of that; you did not ask for economic concessions on either side to get this done? That’s one question. And my second question is how much in escrow would have the players owed to the league had you not come to an agreement, and what happens to the escrow going forward?
DONALD FEHR: I’ll take a shot at that if you want. First of all, I don’t want to comment on the other negotiations. I’ve been through this far long enough to understand that unless you’re on the inside of those talks, your information is at best incomplete, very likely third- and fourth- and fifth-hand, and you just don’t express opinions on those. That’s for them to figure out.
Secondly, there’s obviously going to be some pain here. There’s obviously reduced revenue. We hope there won’t be reduced revenue this season, but likely that that’s possible anyway going forward, and so what we tried to do was structure something that everybody could live with over time.
But it’s important to understand that it’s over time. If revenue is less, revenue is less.
The structure here allows these things to be worked out over time so that we hope we’ll be in very best position possible to get back to normal as soon as possible.
GARY BETTMAN: From our standpoint — I agree with Don. From our standpoint, we believe that it was important to adhere to the fundamentals of our system, but at the same time restructure it to moderate the impact on both sides, which is how we’ve, in effect, dealt with the shortfalls that are occurring or are likely to occur, with an attempt to smooth it out. And I think we’ve accomplished that.
As to the other part of your question, the escrow for next season, in terms of what we’re going to collect next season during the season is 20 percent. I think it’s fair to say that the percentage, had we not figured out a way to moderate and spread, would have been substantially more.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the issue of family separation. I know the NBA is letting families visit in the second round. In the lead-up to this some of the players were telling me that you guys are looking at a similar structure in the Conference Finals. Can you just elaborate on exactly when players will have contact with their families and how you guys arrived at the conclusions you did?
MATHIEU SCHNEIDER: Yeah, so obviously from the onset, this was a concern that our guys had. We had a great group working on the Return to Play Committee, and there were a couple of the guys who thought of using the World Championship model, which players are very familiar with. A lot of our guys are over there every year, where they start the tournament first three or four weeks, they’re traveling, they’re playing exhibition games as a team before their families join them when they get further along in the tournament, usually when they get closer to the medal rounds. I think it was Jason Spezza actually that was the original guy — he wasn’t on the Return to Play Committee but he had floated that idea and it made sense to a lot of guys, so we started to float that and tried to come up with some type of compromise that made sense for everyone.
It’s not ideal. There’s no question about it. Players have never really experienced probably that long away from their families. I know Chicago always had a fairly long road trip in the middle of the year when the circus came to town there. They used to go on a very long road trip. But aside from that, that’s not something that guys are accustomed to.
You know, these are — this is one of the many challenges that we’re facing in trying to get a consensus among our guys and reach compromise.
GARY BETTMAN: Mathieu’s comment made me think of something. As one point in the discussions with the players on the Return to Play Committee, we talked about having the first two rounds of the Playoffs after the qualifier to be best of five so that we could shorten the period of time that the players would be in the bubble and away from home, and it was the players who said, no, we want it best of seven because when the Stanley Cup Champion is ultimately crowned, we want it to be because it was on the same basis as the other Stanley Cups have been over modern time. That to me was impressive because the integrity of the return-to-play system was paramount in everybody’s mind.
Q. I have a question for the four of you, I suppose. What happens when the teams go to the Hub? Are you guys going to be in Edmonton or Toronto yourselves? And what will your routine be like to monitor what’s happening in both cities? Will you have daily calls? What happens for you guys once things get rolling in the Hubs?
GARY BETTMAN: I’ll speak for myself and for Bill. We’ve had this discussion, and we don’t know the answer yet because we have been so focused on getting through the agreements, getting them ratified and getting set up.
We may have some issues that we may have to discuss with the Canadian government in terms of getting across the border and being able to get into the Hubs. But we thought that relative to everything else that we had to work out with both the Federal Government and the provincial governments, a couple of issues still we’re working on, we didn’t want to burden it with our personal situations. Obviously we’ll be watching all the games. The Situation Room in Toronto will be up and functioning. But where we will end up has yet to be determined.
Obviously we would spend a lot of time in both places if we have the flexibility to move around, but based on the current situation and projected situation of the U.S.-Canadian border, I don’t know how much freedom we’re going to have to do that.
DONALD FEHR: Just for my part, I think it’s fair to say that there will be a lot of day-by-day issues that will have to be worked through. Almost all of them will be minor. They’ll be in the ordinary course. We will both have staff, I think, within the bubbles, even if it isn’t everybody. They will not only talk every day, they’ll see each other all the time. There’s limited places to go. If they need to contact anybody outside, they will.
Of all the issues that might arise, I don’t think that one will be a problem.
MATHIEU SCHNEIDER: Putting aside Gary’s thoughts on the government allowing us access, my plan is to be in Edmonton. I’ll be there the first few weeks. I doubt that we would go back and forth from bubble to bubble but probably remain there.
I think we’ve had a really good working relationship with Steve Mayer and his team, and they’re really trying to put together as good an experience as possible, understanding the limitations that are going to be within a bubble scenario. We’ve kind of joked that it’s like going to Mars; no one has ever been in there, so we’re going to have to be there and make changes on the fly as we go, and we’ll have to work through things, but we’ll have staff on both sides that are doing that.
I’m sure we’re going to face a ton of challenges. We might have a good book when we come out of there.
Q. Las Vegas was obviously a finalist as one of the Hub cities, and recently locally we saw a surge in the new COVID cases, including an unknown number of hotel/casino workers. I’m wondering if that was the sole reason for shifting away from Las Vegas or what other factors went into that decision.
BILL DALY: So I’d say it certainly was one of the reasons. I would say that from the start, we had very clear and transparent conversations with people in Vegas, and that was true until the end. Obviously we understand some of the advantages of Vegas and some of the abilities to create the bubble tighter than it might be in other locations, but the fact that the COVID rate was spiking outside of what would be the bubble was a concern for us, and we certainly had that conversation with the Vegas people.
From the start, couldn’t have been a better dialogue and relationship. At the end of the day, as Gary said from the start, we wanted to pick two Hub cities that presented really the best from a health and safety standpoint, and we were concerned, given what was happening in Vegas, that that was not the case there. So that certainly led into the decision we made.
GARY BETTMAN: Also I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that 10 of our clubs in the cities that they play in all did an outstanding job of making a presentation as to why it would be good for us to go there as a Hub city. It was very difficult in many instances to distinguish the presentations and the possibilities, but as Bill said, in the final analysis making sure we were in as free a COVID-19 environment as possible became paramount.
Q. I have a couple of detailed CBA questions regarding money. With the 10 percent salary deferral that the players will be taking in the ’20-’21 season, am I correct in understanding that that just affects their actual salary, that’s not going to impact the cap hit on the team in any way? And then my second question is I just want to confirm that under the new escrow system that the 5 percent potential inflator that the Players’ Association has had in the past is going to be eliminated now, right?
BILL DALY: Yep, that’s true on both counts. Obviously the players’ contract is — the cap hit is based on average annual value of the contract, and that remains the same, so the cap treatment will be the same. Obviously when the dollars are paid, deferred, they will count against the players’ share in that year, so that’s item one.
The second question you had was also — I was agreeing with you. What was the issue?
GARY BETTMAN: 100 percent inflator.
BILL DALY: Yeah, so we’ve agreed on how the cap will be set for all six years of the collective agreement, and the inflator that had previously existed in the collective bargaining agreement will not apply, subject to the other inflators that we’ve agreed to as part of our new agreement.
Q. Just piggy-backing on the CBA question, what are the highlights of it, and are there set caps already or floors that you can’t go beyond or below in this new agreement?
DONALD FEHR: I’m not entirely sure I understand the question, but the cap will begin at 81 and a half, and it will rise slowly as revenue begins to come back until we get to $4.8 billion. At that point, we’ll be going to what’s known as a lag system so that the cap will be known by everybody much farther ahead than it has been in the past. I’m not sure if I got your questions, but I hope I did.
Q. Gary, Bill and Don, in the big picture in layman’s terms, can you explain to people how important it is to have six years of stability for the health of the game? And then for Mathieu, we like to say the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win; it comes down to who wants it more. As a player you did this under normal circumstances. Can you describe just how much that comes into play in this circumstance? Have we ever seen a tournament where the players are going to go through more difficulty to win the Stanley Cup?
GARY BETTMAN: Well, with respect to the health of the game, I know I’ve always believed, and I believe Don, as well, believes that labor peace is important. It gives you a solid foundation and something you can build off of. Labor disruptions are just that: They’re disruptive. You try to avoid them, and sometimes you just can’t in pursuit of things that you need for the health of the game.
We’ve always been fortunate that we’ve come back strong, incredibly strong, but at this point in time, I think Don and I both recognize that labor peace was something that we couldn’t even quantify how important it was, but we both knew that for the business of the game to come back strong, for the game itself to come back strong, there was enough disruption going on in the world that we didn’t have to add to it, which I think made this a collaborative problem-solving effort more than anything else.
DONALD FEHR: Yeah, I can only add to that that what I said in my initial remarks, which is that you have to put the game on the best possible footing to recover as completely as possible, as quickly as possible, as the economy comes back. We think we do that. We think that’s good for everybody, and that’s the immediate priority.
You know, the system is whatever the system is, but the single thing which matters more than the system is the revenue number. So that’s what we were trying to do. I’ll turn it over to Mathieu, I guess, for the hard question.
MATHIEU SCHNEIDER: Okay. This is one of the things that came up over and over again when we were talking with the Return to Play Committee, and as Gary alluded to, the original thought was to shorten it as much as we could while keeping the integrity, and that was the proposal of best of five for the first two rounds after the play-in round. The players were against that for the very reason of keeping the integrity and not wanting the asterisk by it in any shape or form for the Stanley Cup winner of this year.
We can, I guess, imagine what the challenges are going to be for the guys coming back. There might be some teams that have benefitted, that could have had injuries heading into the Playoffs. I know that’s the case on at least one or two teams that have gotten healthy. I think that they’re probably going to have a level playing field when it comes to the amount of time that guys have had to spend on the ice and in the gym and coming back into camps now. I think we’re looking at a fairly level playing field there. That was a concern early on when we weren’t sure how many guys had access to ice, had access to gym equipment, things of that nature. But I think we’re in a pretty good spot now.
I would say the only thing we have to compare it to, maybe the intensity coming out of the gate would be a World Cup where we start right at the beginning of the season with extremely intense games. It’s maybe that kind of atmosphere for the guys. We’re trying to take all necessary steps to make sure guys have everything they need inside and outside the bubble to prepare for the games and to stay healthy.
Q. Question for Bill: What is your guys’ plan on injury disclosure and illness disclosure in terms of coronavirus cases and injuries? And for Mathieu in particular, how important was it for players to have some of that privacy in this process?
BILL DALY: So I’ll start by saying that we’ve obviously dealt with that situation and talked to the Players’ Association about it and continue to feel that medical privacy is important in this process. Having said that, we understand as a league we have an obligation of some transparency with respect to the COVID virus in particular. At least for now, we’re going to maintain a policy where the league is announcing basically league numbers, and clubs are really prohibited from giving any information with respect to COVID test results, and for purposes of making the system work, any injury information going forward.
We will be releasing numbers. We’ll be releasing positive test numbers that the media and the public will know what kind of situation we’re in, but we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re doing it on a club-by-club basis or a player-by-player basis because I think the interests of medical privacy are important, and we’re going to protect them.
MATHIEU SCHNEIDER: Yeah, I would just — the only thing really to add here is that it was a high priority for guys, no question. Early on, on one or two teams, there were a couple of positive tests, and the guys are very sensitive to it. Obviously they’re contacting everyone that they know that they’ve been in touch with, and the ID tracing. But it was very important to the players, to answer it directly.
Q. Two questions: First of all, looking at the dates for the last possible day of the Stanley Cup Final, I believe it was October 4th, and Gary, I know in the past you’ve talked about wanting to play the ’20-’21 season in its entirety. Can you still do that, ending this season on October 4th? And my second question is whether in the two Hub sites there will be music piped in, crowd noise piped in, that kind of thing done, to create something close to a game atmosphere?
GARY BETTMAN: We are planning a full ’20-’21 season. Looking at the schedule, making some adjustments, we believe we can play a full season, and if we run a little later than usual, that may be one of the consequences. But we think it’s important if we can to complete the ’19-’20 season, and if we start in November or December, so be it. We believe we have the flexibility to do that.
With respect to the games will look like, Steve Mayer and the events group at the league are extraordinary. I think everybody knows that, from looking at the events we put on, starting with the outdoor games. They have some very special things planned; you’ll just have to tune in to see them.
Q. Gary and Bill, are you able to comment on how much all these tests are going to cost and how you’re able to procure what could amount at least in the early going of 2,000 tests per day? And again, from a transparency standpoint, how you’ll handle it if all of a sudden there’s speculation if a player disappears in Phase 4. And Don and Mathieu, did you agree from the outset with the league stance that guys like Kaprizov shouldn’t be eligible to play and how that was conceded?
GARY BETTMAN: So with respect to testing, part of why we’re going to where we’re going and having the Hubs in places where there’s less COVID-19, it gives us better access to testing, which we’re getting from commercial sources and which we’re paying for, and we wanted to make sure that we’re not doing anything that takes away from the medical needs of a community, and we’re comfortable that that’s the case.
And the answer to your question about I think it was knowing who has tests or doesn’t have tests, that’s why we’re going to be very discreet as to how injuries are disclosed, because if you don’t say somebody has an upper body injury or a lower body injury, they’re not playing, then people are going to draw their conclusions. So we’re going to make sure that the system holds up so that we can protect the privacy and the rights of the players who may have a condition.
BILL DALY: Nothing to add to that.
MATHIEU SCHNEIDER: Can you repeat the second question?
Q. I was asking if from the very beginning that you agreed with the league stance that players that weren’t signed as of March 12th like Kaprizov, Romanov, wouldn’t be eligible for this tournament or how that wound up being conceded?
MATHIEU SCHNEIDER: Well, first, I don’t think we can really discuss bargaining and how things are conceded. But it was just another issue that was on the table and addressed and debated on both sides, like anything else. We talked to agents, we talked to players, and it’s not something that our staff just sits there and makes a decision on or takes a position on. We do it with a lot of input from a lot of people.
That’s the same for any of these, I guess, things that are negotiated in any CBA. But that one in particular, obviously players don’t have an extreme view on that, so we rely on agents to bounce those ideas off of.
GARY BETTMAN: Yesterday, just to add to that, during the Board of Governors meeting, I said to the board, everybody can find at least one if not more things that they would like to see different in the agreement that was reached, and there are probably some things in there they don’t like. But when you’re negotiating a Collective Bargaining Agreement and with the number of component parts that we were dealing with, if you look at the agreement as a whole, you really just can’t pick at any one part and say, that’s not good, I don’t like it, you’ve got to look at the whole body of work.
Q. My question is about health and safety and transparency. Hockey players are famed for playing through illness, for playing through injury, and I’ve talked to enough doctors over the years about things like concussions that they don’t necessarily trust teams to even follow their own concussion protocols. So what kind of faith can we have as citizens of Toronto that you guys when you come here are going to follow the protocols that you put in place? They look great, but what kind of faith will we have that players that actually test positive will actually be removed from the game?
MATHIEU SCHNEIDER: I think we all have something to say about that, I would imagine, but I would just know that there’s a few points, first of all. If concussions were contagious, I think players would feel differently about it, and I think that guys certainly understand the notion that if they are not honest with symptoms or how they might feel that they put their entire team in jeopardy, and I think you all know how we feel about hockey players and teammates and teamwork.
You know, I think something that continues to get lost in everything here is the fact that every single person that’s coming into the bubble of tested negative for a period of time and is going to test negative before interacting with others in the bubble. Is there a zero percent chance that someone brings it in from outside? No, of course not. And again, we continually rely on the doctors for guidance. That was the case with the Hub cities, and it’ll be the case if we have to make decisions on the fly going forward. There’s no question about it. That’s paramount. It’s not just something we’re saying, it happens to be the truth.
With all these things, there’s going to be a huge onus on the players here in Phase 3 to make sure that they’re taking care of themselves and looking out for their teammates, going to the rink, going home, going to the grocery store, social distancing, wearing masks, washing their hands, all the things that all of us are practicing every single day now. But I think there’s a very good chance that the guys are going to be safer in the bubble than they are under normal circumstances at home.
By the way, if we didn’t have that assurance from the get-go on these things, we probably would have never even started with this process. But the doctors have guided us.
GARY BETTMAN: I think the question, not to push back on it too hard, presumes a level of dishonesty and a lack of integrity that the four of us and the people we serve would reject categorically. The fact is that all of us and everybody we serve understands the importance and the seriousness of what we’re dealing with, and I don’t think anybody is going to want to be involved in playing games with the truth, the facts and the reality of what we’re all dealing with.
DONALD FEHR: Let me just add two thoughts to that. First of all, I know on the player side, given our discussions, and I am morally certain on the owners’ side and the management side they’ve had exactly the same discussions, that everybody is relying on everybody else, and everybody is going to be doing what they have to do to make sure that to the extent — the greatest extent possible we can provide the safest environment possible. That’s really important.
Secondly, though, I take a little bit of a pause with the suggestion somehow that people should be able to rely. What I mean by that is what we are about to do is what every business and public institution is going to have to do over the next weeks and months as they reopen. Every single one. This is not going to be, we’re going to do this in hockey and we’re going to do this in sports and everybody else is either going to stay closed forever or have some other magical procedure to follow. And to the extent that we can help develop things which would be helpful elsewhere, that’s great.
Q. Messrs. Bettman and Daly, I was wondering with what’s happening with the virus spiking in certain regions of the U.S., whether there was any thought to encouraging teams in Florida or Arizona or Nevada or even Carolina to perhaps hold their Phase 3 training camp in other areas such as maybe in Canada?
BILL DALY: Certainly no encouragement, and again, we believe our Phase 3 protocol, which you have access to. If the players are following the recommendations made in the Phase 3 protocol, we think the risk is limited, even in hotbed areas.
Obviously we take the lead from our clubs to a certain extent with respect to where they want to hold their training camps and what they think is best for them, but we think if everybody is doing what the protocol suggests should be done that it can be a safe environment regardless of what the outside COVID results are.
Q. For Gary, first of all, during the duration of this call, both the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs have canceled press conferences this afternoon due to some irregularity with the Federal Government of Canada. If you could give us an explanation of that. And Mathieu, to me, this seems like just a tiny hint of unpredictability that will pop up again during the course of the Playoffs. This is a completely new thing. There’s going to be changes, there’s going to be guys leaving lineups. As a player, and you know players are all about routine, doing the same thing every day, what’s it going to be like for the players in an environment that isn’t going to be completely routine here through the National Hockey League Playoffs?
GARY BETTMAN: To answer your first question, while we believe we’re buttoned down at the provincial level in Ontario and Alberta, there are still a couple of details that we’re just finalizing with the Federal Government at the federal level, and we thought collectively it would be better to postpone the media avails that both Hub cities and clubs were planning until those details are finalized. Bill, do you want to add anything to that?
BILL DALY: Nope. That’s right.
MATHIEU SCHNEIDER: You know, the uncertainty has been the single biggest hurdle, I guess we could say, that we’ve had to overcome throughout this thing, and yes, hockey players and I think all athletes are creatures of habit. You know, from the time these guys started playing the game up until this year, they’ve had a hockey season, and this is the first time we’re going to be playing hockey in July and August in a meaningful way.
You know, again, I guess I would point back to the World Cup where guys — to prepare and to get ready for such intense hockey right out of the gate, that’s one thing. To be living within a confined area for a long period of time, that’s going to have many challenges, there’s no question. And again, I think that’s one of the very important things throughout this whole process is happening in the sense that we are working with Steve Mayer, who was coordinating all of the buildouts, the food, the areas, workout areas, recreation areas, anything that you can imagine to try to make life more comfortable for the guys is being considered, and that’s going to be hugely important for the success of the entire tournament.
I mean, we’re anxious to get going, there’s no question about it, but I think we all know that we’re going to have to make some decisions on the fly, make some changes, and everybody is prepared for that, I think.
DONALD FEHR: Let me just add a word or two to that. I’ve had the good fortune to represent professional athletes for more than 40 years in the Union capacity, and I’ve learned some things about them during that period. You’re quite right that hockey players and most professional athletes are creatures of routine, in terms of training and practice and so on, because the routine works. That’s why they do it. But you need to understand something: They are not only professionals, they are the consummate professionals, and what that means is that they adapt. They adapt to whatever the world throws at them: A new coach, an injury, all of a sudden a better team in the division, a new opportunity, an illness, whatever it is. So will it be a challenge? Sure. Will it be different? Of course. Will the players in the long run have any difficulty handling it? No.