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‘Long Way Between Here and There,’ but NHL and NHLPA Nearing Deal



NHL return, Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, NHL Season

We are close to the NHL Return, which could start as early as Jan. 13, according to player sources. Late last week, NHL and NHLPA wrangling over escrow and salary deferrals gave way to talk about the framework of the 2020-21 NHL season, and by Monday night, the excitement was building.

A final agreement has not yet been reached and a high-level source told CHN, “There’s a long way between here and there.”

However, there is growing excitement and anticipation for the deal among players, who told CHN the sides are targeting a training camp to begin around Dec. 29 and games to begin on Jan. 13.

The NHL Return is not yet a done deal, but there is growing chatter that the sides are much closer than before. The NHL Return was touch and go for a couple of weeks. There was internal division among NHL owners and conflict between some owners and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. The was squabbling and hurt feelings between the NHL and NHLPA over increased financial asks to play the 2020-21 NHL season.

Jan. 13. We could have NHL games. At least that’s the expectation as of Tuesday morning.

It appears the NHLPA held the line and indeed won the battle with NHL owners. Despite strong disagreement among some NHL owners, who opposed the season, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman held his side together, and the sides will largely honor the recently agreed CBA.

On Monday, TSN Reporter Daren Dreger said the NHLPA offered a larger salary deferral but did not offer additional concessions on the hotly debated escrow levels.

As Hockey Now reported Monday evening in our Off the Record column, Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly pushed back on their owners; the league realized it was a losing fight with no end in sight. Late last week, the conversation shifted to the framework of a season, including a 56-game schedule. 

You should check out the OTR column. It was eye-opening.

Because the league forwent discussions on the financials and instead focused on the season details, it appears the owners against a season have lost. And Bettman may have won, again.

Early Monday, an NHL source told Hockey Now, “If we play, you can thank Bettman and Daly.”

So, perhaps we shall. If the NHL Return to Play agreement and CBA in June was Gary Bettman’s finest hour, this too would rank as a commendable performance worthy of praise.

As the full details emerge over the coming hours and days, CHN and our network will have the story.

Check back throughout the day. As soon as we’re confident in the details, we’ll break the news.

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