We have been hearing rumblings of the National Hockey League's alleged plans to resume the season for weeks and weeks now but so far nothing has really been too concrete in that regard. Things however appear to have taken a significant shift over the weekend however with multiple different sources reporting that the NHL and the National Hockey League Players Association have begun to make progress on a plan to move forward with the 2019 -2020 NHL season.
The latest comes directly from the mouth of an NHL owner himself, with Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk recently making comments that indicate he is completely confident the league will resume play. Melnyk was reached at his home in Barbados by Ottawa Senators insider Bruce Garrioch and he informed Garrioch that he is "100 percent"certain that the NHL will crown a Stanley Cup Champion in 2020. That is a bold statement on the part of Melnyk to be sure but if there is anyone with the relevant information on this topic it would be one of the league's owners. The statements from Melnyk fit a pattern of reports we have seen today that indicate the NHL is starting to piece together its plan of action.
This news comes fresh off the heels of a report from Pierre LeBrun earlier today that suggests the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Union have made significant progress in negotiations with their Return to Play Committee, a sign that plans may be coming together to resume the season.
Sources indicate the Return To Play Committee has talked throughout the weekend, NHL-NHLPA making progress on a 24-team format. Sources also stressing there's still work to be done, but clearly the weekend has produced some traction. More talks expected over next day or two.
Again, tough to handicap at this point whether a format gets agreed upon this week or not but definite progress. A reminder that the NHL has a Board of Governors call Monday at 3 p.m. ET; and that the league may announce decision on the draft this week.
On top of that according to a report today from David Pagnotta of SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, the latest rumblings around the league would see the draft take place much later in the year than expected. Not only does it now sound like the NHL Entry Draft is going to be pushed back all the way to the month of September, but according to Pagnotta this latest development could also result in the NHL's free agency period being pushed back several months as well.
Talk around the league suggests the NHL Draft will take place after the Stanley Cup is awarded, which would appear to be in early-to-mid September. Following a mid-to-end-of-September Draft would be free agency throughout October (the new off-season), and training camps would get going in November. There is also talk of starting the 2020-21 season without fans if an antibody or vaccine isn’t available, but that’s still premature at this point (though, still on everyone’s mind).
Lots of things happening and all of them point to the season actually resuming at some point in the relatively near future.