The NHL and NHLPA have agreed on a new extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, as well as a new agreement on returning to play.

As per the new CBA announced on Monday, the new agreement will be in effect until the 2025-26 season. The deal includes transition rules and a new critical dates calendar. The 24-team Stanley Cup Playoffs tournament is set to begin August 1, with the cities of Edmonton and Toronto playing host as the hub cities.

The following is a tweet from Sportsnet analyst Chris Johnston, breaking down the dates agreed to in the plan:

Chris Johnston / Twitter

Phase 3 of the NHL’s Return to Play Plan is set to begin on July 13. Phase 3 includes training in full groups both on and off the ice. Teams will travel to their respective hub cities on July 26. Phase 4, beginning August 1, involves the playing of games.

Before training camps begin on July 13, a simple majority vote in favour of this agreement is needed by the players, while at least three-quarters of owners must vote in favour in order for the plan to move ahead.

The current CBA was set to expire in 2022, but changes needed to be made and an extension needed to be implemented. The NHL has lost over $1-billion from the 2019-20 season, and they are expected to lose even more than that during a 2020-21 season that will likely be shortened, and crowds expected to be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Players will defer 10% of next season’s salary. The salary cap will be held at $81.5 million next season. This year’s playoff fund is set at $32 million, and the minimum salary will increase to $750,000, and will reach $800,000 by the time this CBA expires.

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There are also several guidelines that the NHL Board of Governors has given the NHLPA to follow upon return to play. All players will be tested before travelling to their hub cities, and in the final week before arrival, everyone will be asked to stay at home as much as possible other than going to the arena for practices or training. Testing will take place at the arenas daily. Players also have the authority to opt out of returning to play, and no penalty will be given for those who choose to do so. Players must give their respective team a written warning before training camp opens in order to opt out.

All players will get their own hotel rooms, and face coverings will be mandatory and social distancing must be practiced at all times, with the only exception being on the ice or during a game. There will also be restrictions on the number of people allowed in lobbies and elevators. If players need to leave for an emergency, re-entry into the arena is not yet guaranteed.

Remaining teams in the Eastern Conference will play their games in Toronto, while Western Conference teams will be in Edmonton. Both cities will have tightly-controlled bubbles and guidelines to be followed. All games will be played without fans present.

With COVID-19 numbers spiking in certain parts of the US, and the Canadian border remaining closed for travel, the NHL still faces challenges to limit the spread of coronavirus. All training camps are scheduled to take place in each team’s respective cities, posing a risk of infection for teams in Nevada, Texas, Florida, and Arizona in particular.

35 NHL players have tested positive for the coronavirus since June 8.

Featured photo courtesy of NHL.com

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