It’s been nearly four months since we’ve seen a live hockey game, and for much of that time, no one knew when the next one would be. Now we know.
The NHL and the Players’ Association announced today a memorandum of understanding for a new collective bargaining agreement. It includes an Aug. 1 date to resume games.
The league will begin mandatory training camps July 13, and the 24 remaining postseason teams will report to their hub cities on July 26. Teams are expected to play at least one exhibition game before beginning either the qualifying round or seeding round-robin.
As one of the top four teams in the Western Conference, the Golden Knights will not compete in the qualifying round. They will play the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars in a three-game round-robin to determine seeding for the Round of 16.
The playoff brackets will be re-seeded after each round.
The NHL has yet to announce the hub cities, but multiple reports have indicated they will be Edmonton and Toronto, with the conferences geographically aligned, meaning the Golden Knights would go to Edmonton.
All these dates are tentative and still require approval from the Players’ Association and owners, though that is considered a formality.
A bigger issue could be the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already thrown wrenches into the planned restarts of baseball, soccer and other leagues looking to return.
Just today, the NHL announced 35 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since the league began its optional, small-group workouts at team facilities. That includes 23 of 396 players who have been working out with their teams and another 12 who have not.