(AP/KDKA) — Pro hockey’s return is potentially three weeks away, and with it an assurance of labor peace through September 2026.
In separate votes announced Friday, the NHL board of governors and members of the NHL Players’ Association ratified a return-to-play plan slated to have games begin in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, on Aug. 1.
The voting process also included both sides approving a four-year extension to the current collective bargaining agreement which provides the league a comprehensive path out of the economic challenges raised by the new coronavirus pandemic.
The agreements were tentatively agreed to on Monday, and approved nearly four months to the day since the NHL halted its season with 189 games remaining.
Barring a setback, hockey is scheduled to resume with an expanded 24-team playoff format involving the top-12 teams in each of the Eastern and Western Conferences, beginning with a qualifying round and the first two rounds played in Canada. If all proceeds as planned, the Stanley Cup Final would begin in late September, and the 2020-21 season opening in December.
August 1: Game on.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 10, 2020
The 24 teams can now plan to open training camps on Monday, which will also serve as a deadline for players to opt-out of competition without penalty. The teams are then scheduled to travel to their respective hub cities on July 26.
The Penguins will face off against the Montreal Canadiens on Aug. 1. Game 2 is Aug. 3, while Game 3 is Aug. 5. Start times have not been released yet.
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