TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Frank Seravalli and Gino Reda engaged in an intriguing episode of Insider Trading tonight on TSN, and LeBrun shared some details regarding points of emphasis at Friday’s upcoming GM’s meetings…
What is next season looking like? It’s been about three weeks since the Stanley Cup was handed out and we have as much clarity on next season then as we do now. Has there been any progress?
LeBrun: Well, what I can tell you is that the NHL and NHLPA joint committee — which has been tasked with the return to play — they haven’t met yet. It’s not because they’re not working. The league internally is gathering intel from its clubs and eventually this joint committee is going to meet. There’s going to be about 10 players on this joint committee. In the meantime, there’s an NHL general managers meeting on Friday. It’s the first official GMs meeting really since Boca Raton in March, although the GMs have met on calls, especially in the spring time after COVID-19 shut down the regular season.
This is an important GMs meeting. I mean, one key item? The American Hockey League. NHL GMs want to know what they’re going to do with their prospects as they await when the AHL season is going to begin. Now, I spoke with AHL president Scott Howson, who says that while Dec. 4 remains the target date to start the AHL season, that’s likely going to be pushed back to mirror some of what the NHL is going to do. But I can tell you this: There are some NHL GMs that want their prospects playing as soon as possible, so that’s going to be an interesting conversation on Friday.
One last note, the seven teams that did not participate in the Return to Play this past summer? They’re going to get some good news. They’ve asked for some extra training camp time and I’m told that the NHL and NHLPA have tentatively agreed that those teams could have extra training camp time ahead of the normal training camps, whenever that is next season.
LeBrun expanded upon his points in a column for The Athletic…
Friday’s GMs call will attempt to drill down a little more into details and logistics on the upcoming season although I suspect the key answers will still be in short supply.
One item of note, the seven teams who didn’t get to participate in return to play this past summer will finally have an answer on a proposal they jointly submitted a few months ago. Will they be allowed to extend their training camp before this season given that they haven’t played a game since mid-March?
A league source confirmed Tuesday that the NHL and NHL Players’ Association have an agreement on a general framework but nothing has been finalized yet and likely won’t until both sides set an official start date for training camps. But the tentative framework contemplates extra days of training camp which would be on the front end of the normal training camp period for the Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Devils, Senators, Red Wings and Sabres (if they choose to do so). There’s also talk of extra preseason games for those teams but that part I don’t think has been agreed to at this point.
LeBrun continues (paywall), noting that Steve Yzerman and Ken Holland are both on the AHL’s Return-to-Play committee, and the AHL has some hurdles of its own to cross…
“We’re still in the gathering information stage,” AHL president and CEO Scott Howson told The Athletic on Tuesday. “We have a tentative start date of Dec. 4 but that’s probably going to get pushed I would say. We’re consulting with the NHL and trying to figure out what the best path is.”
“They’re soon going to bring to us a final recommendation and they’re getting down to the final stages of doing that,” Howson said of the taskforce. “We should have a little bit of clarity about what our next stake in the ground is going to be, in the next two or three weeks, I would think.”
There’s more at The Athletic…
It appears the Sharks and six other teams that did not qualify for the NHL’s postseason earlier this year will be allowed to have extra time to train and practice together before the start of any main training camp.
This summer, general managers from the seven teams asked the NHL if they could get an extended training camp — possibly as long as two weeks — before the start of the 2020-21 regular season. The GMs were seeking the same chance to skate the 24 other teams got during Phase 3 of the NHL’s Return to Play before the start of the postseason.
In an email to this newspaper, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote the league and the NHL Players’ Association have a general agreement on the structure of extra pre-camp workouts for those seven teams, but the two sides have not yet finalized any details.
Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic first reported the tentative agreement between the league and the union.
Long story long:
- It’s going to be very interesting to find out what happens in terms of the AHL’s Return-to-Play format, especially given that the Red Wings a) have a significant number of prospects and b) don’t own an AHL team that really needs to play in front of fans to make money in the Grand Rapids Griffins;
- And it’s hard to guess what the “extended training camp” means for the NHL’s non-bubble teams, but Pashelka says that there are San Jose Sharks who are already using the team’s practice facilities, and I’d imagine that the Red Wings and their six non-playoff compatriots will be given some sort of on-ice practices before the “start of training camp” for the rest of the NHL. Whether there will be some sort of tournament between those seven non-bubble teams remains to be seen, however.