The NHL and NHLPA reached a tentative agreement on Friday night to play a 56-game season.
There are still some things that need to be figured out, including the divisional alignments, travel, protocols, and most importantly, where teams are and are not allowed to play due to local COVID-19 restrictions. More information is starting to trickle out on Saturday.
Some quick information on all of it.
NHL Board of Governors to Meet On Sunday
The NHL’s board of governors is expected to meet at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon where it will vote on Friday’s agreement. Once that happens we should get a better understanding of the protocols that will be in place for the 2020-21 NHL season. Following that board of governors meeting, the league is also expected to meet with the general managers at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday to presumably inform them on what the season will look like. [Pierre LeBrun on Twitter]
Sharks to reportedly open training camp and start season in Arizona
The big issue that needs to be figured out is whether the seven Canadian teams are able to play in their home arenas. That will depend on what the Canadian government allows. If they can not play in Canada, they may have to play their season in the United States. But there is also a potential issue with one of the teams in the United States. That team is the San Jose Sharks.
Santa Clara county banned contact sports through at least January 8, a decision that resulted in the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers playing the remainder of its regular season home games in Arizona.
According to a report from the Associated Press on Saturday, the Sharks could be following them there for training camp and the start of the regular season.
The Sharks missed the playoffs, and their status is in limbo because Santa Clara County has banned contact sports through at least Jan. 8. The Sharks will follow in the steps of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, who are closing out their season in Arizona.
The Sharks said they had no comment “at this point” on relocating to Arizona.
In an email to the AP, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly deferred questions to the Sharks regarding their status. Daly added he was unable to share many details of the plan because the league has yet to brief its general managers.
The NHL’s current proposed divisions for this season would have the Sharks with Arizona, Anaheim, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Vegas.
Increased urgency with remaining free agents
Meanwhile, on the hockey front, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said on Saturday that there is now an increased urgency in talks regarding some of the remaining unrestricted free agents.
Training camps could be opening two weeks from Sunday, so you have to assume teams will want to have everyone ready to go for the start.
With Thursday’s Anthony Duclair signing in Florida, the top remaining free agents include forwards Mike Hoffman, Mikael Granlund, and Erik Haula, as well as defensemen Sami Vatanen and Travis Hamonic.
Hoffman is a proven 30-goal scorer, while Granlund and Haula could be bargains if they end up in the right situation. [Chris Johnston on Twitter]