NHL Could See Later Start to 2020-21 Season

According to yesterday’s New York Post in an article written by Larry Brooks (accessed via their website), the National Hockey League may be seeing a later than expected start for the 2020-21 regular season.

The media outlet is reporting that “there has been a lull in the talking since the NHL hit the NHLPA with its request last week for additional salary deferrals and an increase in the escrow cap that would amount to approximately $300 million flowing to ownership for 2020-21.”

Back in July, the two sides signed a new collective bargaining agreement. This allowed the league to go through with their Return to Play initiative that resulted in the Stanley Cup Playoffs being played to their completion. It also deferred players pay “10 percent … with escrow capped at 20 percent. Players would have been guaranteed 72 percent of their face-value pay for the coming season.”

Now, the league is “citing liquidity issues” to get the “players to defer 26 percent of their pay while increasing the escrow cap to 25 percent. That amounts to a guarantee of 55.5 percent for 2021-21. The league is also asking players to increase the escrow cap for the fourth, fifth and sixth years” of the six-year CBA.

The Post’s Brookscited “several well-placed sources” saying that there was “continuing adamant, widespread opposition within the union to this request to renegotiate the terms of agreement structured by the NHLPA to protect players under contract as much as immediately possible while passing the cost of a flat cap and rolling escrow shortfalls onto later generations.”

Brooks said that the NHLPA is “entitled to no more than 50 percent of hockey-related revenue over the life of the agreement.” With “the adoption of annual escrow caps coupled with unlinking the cap from actual hockey-related revenue” there is an end to “the assurance of a year-by-year 50-50 split.”

Brooks suggested that since “the original 10 percent deferral was scheduled to be repaid without interest in three equal, annual installments beginning on Oct. 15, 2022,” then “perhaps the union would be more amenable to at least talking about adjusting the agreement if the league agrees to repay all deferred money with interest.”

The NHL was shooting for January 1, 2021 as the start of a 60-game season that would run through April. Now that that seems to be interrupted by the labor issues, Brooks mentioned that a 48-game schedule starting during the third week of January “appears the more likely objective.”

Of course, there is precedent for a 48-game season. Brooks pointed out that the 1994-95 and 2012-13 seasons were shortened to such with 1994-95 starting on January 20, 1995 while the 2012-13 season began on January 19, 2013.

As if that was not enough, there is also the continuing concerns brought on by COVID-19.

The NHL and NHLPA “must agree on health and safety protocols outside of a bubble. With an expectation of exposure, positive tests, infection and cases, the league and union must create contingencies within the schedule for postponements; for potentially ranking teams by percentages rather than points if teams do not play the same number of games; for roster expansion to accommodate positive (or inconclusive) tests, etc.”

Sports fans have seen similar problems in Major League Baseball and the National Football League with schedules interrupted due to COVID outbreaks among team players and personnel.

To alleviate this, Brooks mentions that the NHL “might want to consider eliminating overtime and going straight from regulation to the shootout in the event of 60-minute tie scores in order to limit the amount of time teams spend on the ice while competing in a condensed schedule.”

Brooks says that “the NHL remains focused on playing in home arenas, with or without fans as determined by local health agencies and governing bodies. That has not changed with news that a handful of players on the Blue Jackets and Golden Knights have tested positive for COVID-19 while skating informally.”

The league, with seven teams in Canada, also has to tackle the problem that teams cannot just cross the border, play a game, and then return to the United States. Canada has strict quarantining protocols in place. Entering Canada, you must self-quarantine for two weeks. With this, the league has bandied around the idea of a “Canadian Division” that would see the seven Canadian teams play each other while the American teams are divided up into regional divisions as well. (The Devils would likely be in a division with other northeastern teams, such as the usual Rangers, Islanders and Flyers; but also teams like the Sabres and Bruins, whom they have never shared a division with.)

Whatever happens, we will find out soon hopefully and get the 2020-21 season off and running.

Devils’ Adidas Reverse Retro Jersey Revealed

My Uncle (in the orange coat), waiting to receive a medal after he placed third in his age group at the 2019 Running with the Devils race.

Before I begin, I want to pass along some sad news. It is with a heavy heart that I have to mention that my Uncle, Richard Zanni, passed away this afternoon at the age of 61.

He was a great supporter to me, not just when it came to this site, but in life in general. I only hope to make him proud as I am an uncle now to my brother and sister-in-law’s two boys. If I can do half the job Uncle Rick did with my brother, sister and I with them, I will leave this earth a very successful man.

Rest in peace, Rick. We love you and you will never be forgotten.

Now, you may be wondering why that was not mentioned in the title. That is because my Uncle was a very selfless person who would not want to be the center of attention. He also believed in working hard and getting done what you started.

It is in that vein that I carry on and try to make this site as good a read as I can for everyone.

And that brings me to the news piece. The Devils, along with the 30 other NHL teams, today announced their Reverse Retro jerseys, a new initiative by Adidas to sell more jerseys across the league as well as spread their creative wings a little bit.

There are some great looks in there, with the Avalanche paying full-on tribute to the Quebec Nordiques to the LA Kings mashup of eras: Gretzky with purple and gold, to the Hurricanes bringing back the Whale… again (although to be fair, it is a grey Whalers jersey this time, paying tribute to the only color that Hartford and Carolina actually shared.

But to the Devils. Theirs is a tribute to their original red, green and white road jerseys from 1982 to 1992. But, instead of the body of the jersey being red, it’s reversed and now green. Basically, they just swapped red with green and called it a day.

The green color, as per the Devils PR people, is representative of the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey, mythical home to the legendary Jersey Devil, from whom the Devils take their nickname.

Devils Senior Vice President of Marketing, Jillian Frechette said: “The Devils have been New Jersey’s team for almost four decades. Since 1992, through three Stanley Cup Championships, the team’s uniform colors, look and feel have remained consistently red, black and white. The adidas Reverse Retro ADIZERO Authentic jersey program created the opportunity for our organization to step back in time in a playful way, accentuating the Pine Barrens-inspired green that plays a significant role in our team history. In the coming months, we look forward to bringing the storied first decade of our franchise to life through storytelling, unique immersive experiences, and fan-centric promotions tied to this jersey and the games in which we will wear it.”

The jersey, according to the Devils’ press release, will be worn four times during the 2020-21 season, when it eventually gets underway. They are said to be worn in conjunction with rivalry games, so you know the Rangers and Flyers are at least two games where this jersey will be worn – possibly even in a color-versus-color matchup. Devils green versus Rangers blue and Flyers orange, what could be better?

There will be “additional creative assets … rolled out over the coming months, including unique video content, custom apparel and player and influencer engagement.”

A cool fact about the jersey is that the red and green are consistent with the pantone colors which were picked in 1982 to represent the team. Those are Green 349 and Red 032. The accents on the arms of the original jersey that the Reverse Retro is based on were meant by Jacqueline McMullen, wife of former owner, John McMullen, who designed the jerseys, to represent the green of the whole Garden State, not just the Pine Barrens.

The jerseys will be available to purchase on December 1 at adidas.com, adidas.ca, NHLShop.com and NHLShop.ca among other retailers.