NHL game suspensions start Rangers’ Christmas break early

With the NHL suspending cross-border travel, the Rangers will have ten days off before their next game on Dec. 27.

The New York Rangers’ Christmas vacation is starting earlier than anticipated.

In the wake of the ongoing health crisis, the NHL has postponed all games involving travel between the United States and Canada through Dec. 27. The Rangers’ Wednesday tilt against the Montreal Canadiens was among the dozen games affected by the suspension.

As a result, the Rangers (19-7-4) are next scheduled to play on Dec. 27 against the Detroit Red Wings (7 p.m. ET, MSG). New York ends its pre-Christmas slate in third place in the Metropolitan Division, a point behind both the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals.

Rising COVID-19 cases across the league have caused some teams to pause their proceedings until after the scheduled end of the holiday break on Dec. 27. With the added dozen brought upon by the border deal, 39 games on the regular season docket will now require rescheduling. The Rangers’ Nov. 28 game against the New York Islanders, brought upon by excess cases with the opponent, has already been moved to March 17.

The NHL and its players’ association released a joint statement on Sunday that vowed to play as many games as possible prior to the Christmas break. Both sides appear dedicated to avoiding a league-wide pause, though players’ participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is in major doubt.

“Though there has been a recent increase in positive COVID test results among Players, coaches and hockey staff, there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in concerning symptoms or serious illness,” a joint statement between from the NHL and NHLPA reads. “Therefore, the NHLPA’s and NHL’s medical experts have determined that, with virtually all Players and Club hockey staff fully vaccinated, the need to temporarily shut down individual teams should continue to be made on a case-by-case basis. The effects of recently introduced enhanced prevention and detection measures will be evaluated daily.”

As for the Olympics, which were set to feature NHL players for the first time since the 2014 Games in Sochi, the statement declares that the league and the NHLPA are “actively discussing” the matter of participation. The league’s February schedule features a three-week break to allow for players’ participation in the Beijing Games, but that period of inactive could now be used for rescheduled games.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

The NHL releases the New York Rangers schedule for 2020-21

The NHL’s 2020-21 regular season will commence Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, and conclude Saturday, May 8, when 30 of the League’s 31 teams take to the ice. The New York Rangers will not be a part of the opening night and will place their first game the next night when they host their rivals, the New York Islanders.

The league announced that the top four teams in each division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with intradivisional play in the first two rounds (#1 vs. #4; #2 vs. #3). The four teams that advance to the Semifinal Round would be seeded by their regular-season points total, with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 4 seed in one series and the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds meeting in the other. Formal training camps will begin on Jan. 3. There will be no pre-season games. The seven teams that did not participate in the 2019-20 Return to Play will be permitted to open their training camps as early as Dec. 31.

In their press release, the league stated that the NHL and NHLPA determined that the ongoing closure of the U.S.-Canada border required realignment, and the League and the Players also sought to minimize team travel as much as possible by shifting to exclusively intradivisional play. It is the current plan to play games in the home arenas of participating teams while understanding that most arenas will not, at least in the initial part of the season, be able to host fans. However, depending on prevailing conditions both in local markets and across North America, the League will be prepared to play games in one or more “neutral site” venues per division should it become necessary. Each team in the East, Central, and West divisions will play every other team in its division eight times while each team in the North Division will play every other team in its division nine or 10 times.


Its Official: The New York Rangers will play a 56 game schedule

A New York Rangers hockey season will begin soon. On Sunday, the NHL announced it will play a 56-game season starting Jan. 13, 2021. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are slated to begin May 8 and last into July.

The league and NHLPA have come to an agreement on key dates and framework for the 2021 season, including scheduling, temporary realignment, and COVID-19 protocols, among the scheduling highlights is that teams will only play other clubs in their division during the regular season.

According to the NHL’s press release, the Stanley Cup Playoffs would feature 16 teams in the traditional best-of-seven, four-round format and conclude around mid-July with the plan of returning to a “normal” hockey calendar for the 2021-22 season (regular season beginning in October). The NHL and NHLPA will release the Health and Safety Protocols, transition rules, and critical dates calendar as well as the 2020-21 schedule in the coming days.

The press release also states that given the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHLPA and the NHL intend to be flexible and adaptable in their approach during the coming weeks to ensure compliance with directives from both local and national governmental and health authorities focusing on the health and safety of the players, other game-related personnel and the communities in which we play. The priority will continue to be focused on the health and safety of our fans and Players and Club, League, NHLPA, and arena personnel.

The NHL is going with a division realignment that includes a seven-team Canadian division, which still requires approval from local health officials for the games to be held north of the border.

North: Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto-Winnipeg-Edmonton-Calgary-Vancouver

East: Boston-Buffalo-New Jersey-NY Islanders-NY Rangers-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh-Washington

Central: Carolina-Chicago-Columbus-Detroit-Florida-Dallas-Nashville-Tampa Bay

West: Anaheim-Arizona-Colorado-Minnesota-Los Angeles-Las Vegas-San Jose-St. Louis

Each team in the East, Central, and West divisions will play every other team in its division eight times, while each team in the North Division will square off nine or 10 times. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs.


Tenative agreement will allow the New York Rangers to take the ice again

A tentative agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA will allow the New York Rangers to hit the ice in the near future. According to multiple sources, the plan would be to start the season on Jan. 13, though the date is not finalized. This hope aligns with the NHL’s prior plan, which included the mid-January start date. Under the new agreement, training camps will start on Dec. 31 for non-playoff teams and Jan. 3 for playoff teams. The NHL plans on having a 56 game schedule. Sportsnet of Canada was the first to report on the agreement.

The NHLPA executive board gave the agreement a green light to proceed on Friday night, but players and owners must hold formal votes and Canadian health officials give their approval before it becomes reality.

It’s unclear whether teams would play in their home arenas or in “hub” cities, though an all-divisional schedule is expected.

The tentative agreement calls for no exhibition games to be played, meaning the NHL will go directly from the off-season and training camps into regular-season games.

The biggest stumbling block at the current time is how the league’s division will look for this season.

The NHL is hoping to go with a proposed division realignment that includes a seven-team Canadian division which will require approval from local health officials. If those approvals are given in Canada, the NHL’s realignment would look like this:

Boston-Buffalo-New Jersey-NY Islanders-NY Rangers-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh-Washington

Carolina-Chicago-Columbus-Detroit-Florida-Dallas-Nashville-Tampa Bay

Anaheim-Arizona-Colorado-Minnesota-Los Angeles-Las Vegas-San Jose-St. Louis


If games cannot be played in Canada, the NHL has considered a plan that would see Canada’s teams play their seasons in the United States.

The agreement, confirmed by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, is pending a vote by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA.

The league’s Board of Governors could vote on the plan as soon as this weekend. Approval from health officials in the five Canadian provinces that have teams is still needed before the NHL can go ahead with the season.









The New York Rangers are looking at a January 15 start date

Multiple sources have stated that the NHL and the New York Rangers could start their season on January 15th. Sportsnet and TSN have reported that the NHL and NHLPA have been engaged in discussions recently about a Jan. 15 start date for the 2020-21 season.

This is one of many issues that need to be worked out in order for the season to start. First, there needs to be a complete realignment for the 2020-21 season to be played, which will include an all-Canadian division to alleviate the worry of border crossings. Both sides will also need to agree on a modified schedule, more health and safety protocols, and determine if the games will be played in regional hubs or in each team’s arenas.

The thought is that if January 15 is the start date and the other issues are worked out, training camps would begin around the first of the year. There is also speculation that the seven teams that did not make the playoffs last season would be allowed around an extra week of voluntary training.

Under these proposals, it does not look like the Rangers will play a full slate of games in the 2020-21 season.

Elliot Friedman of Sportnet told a radio station that “The number of games would be in the 50s. I had some people telling me 52, I had some people telling me 56.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in an interview with Sports Business Journal on Wednesday that the league’s most important focus is on wrapping up the 2021 campaign in a timely fashion.

“I think this is the most important thing: What we’re focused on is trying to get through the 2021 season so we can be back in position for 2021-22 to [get back to] normalcy,” Bettman said. “Based on everything that we’re hearing, we can look at normalcy by the time we get to ’21-22 with whatever happens this season.”

According to TSN, Thursday’s back-and-forth was unrelated to the NHL’s recent economic requests, which remain unresolved, according to TSN sources. The NHLPA has not wavered in its stance that a Collective Bargaining Agreement extension ratified by both sides in July properly accounts for all of the economic realities related to the pandemic.

At the very least, this news provides hope that there will be some sort of season in 2021.





A New York Ranger season starting on January 1 is looking less likely

National Hockey League, NHL

Recently, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the targeted start date of January 1 for the NHL and the New York Rangers is a “work in progress”.  Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of work to done and not a lot of time left to finish it if the league and the Blueshirts want to ring in 2021 by starting their season.

One of the issues is money. Recently, the NHL asked the players to defer more salary past this season beyond the 10 percent already agreed to last summer. The players have balked at this. As of Wednesday, the NHLPA had not offered anything to alter what was agreed to in the June Memo of Understanding defining the parameters of the CBA extension.

Speaking at the Sports Business Journal’s “Dealmakers in Sport” panel on Wednesday, Bettman said the pandemic is a huge factor in its plans for the upcoming campaign. Bettman also said Wednesday that he didn’t view their talks as a renegotiation, but rather the “system’s going to be impacted” and that needs to be addressed in order to return to play amid these extraordinary circumstances.

Then there is the reason the Rangers, the NHL, and sports leagues around the world are in a state of flux, the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was addressed by the commissioner on Wednesday when he said “COVID is going through a second wave, which could be worse than the first wave, and between Thanksgiving and the aftermath and what they think is going to happen for Christmas and the aftermath, we are taking our time and making sure as we look to ways to move forward, we are focused on health and safety and doing the right things.”

Bettman said the league is focused on safely navigating this season, pinning its hopes to the widespread distribution of a vaccine as a way to return to business as usual next fall.

“We are hopeful and optimistic based on everything we are hearing that we can get back to normalcy in ’21-22,” said Bettman.

Of course, Bettman is seeing what is happening in the NFL, as numerous players contracting the virus has wreaked havoc in the schedule.

Then there is the recent news that 48 out of 546 NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the initial testing phase from Nov. 24-30. The NBA is attempting to start their season on December 22.

The final barrier to starting the season on January 1 is the holidays.

A mid to late January start is looking more realistic and likely.


Could we see advertisements on New York Ranger jerseys?

Recently, the New York Rangers and the NHL released their new reverse retro jerseys. What might be missing from that jersey is some kind of ad patch placement, an idea that is being kicked around in some circles for the upcoming season.

Although the NHL has said nothing publically, the league is looking for ways to increase revenue from a season that is sure to be without fans in the stands for at least most of the season. At this hour, insiders are saying that the NHLPA has really stuck to its guns and has not agreed to anything beyond the terms already negotiated four or five months ago with the MOU (memorandum of understanding) and the CBA extension. That could change, but at this point they are very much in their resolve in believing that the NHL should honor those terms.

If this holds true, the NHL will need to look at ways to increase revenue, and ad patches on jerseys are just one of the many ideas that are circulating.

The NBA had recently done this, in a way that does not offend fans who worry that their team’s favorite jerseys will end up looking like a NASCAR driver’s gear, something that is done in other leagues around the world.

The NHL is not the only league that may be looking to do this in 2021.


Traditionalists cringe at the thought of any kind of advertisement on a jersey or helmet. The NHL has been reluctant to go this route.

“It’s not an active discussion among NHL clubs,” commissioner Gary Bettman said about jersey ads in 2017. “I always said we wouldn’t be first. OK, great. The NBA is doing it. But it would take an unusual circumstance – which I would define as a lot of money that I’m having trouble comprehending right now’ – for us to even be thinking about it.”

However, things are different in 2020 than they were in 2017.

One of the major proponents of this idea is Sportsnet hockey insider Elliot Friedman.

“If you look at the NBA there’s a small little logo near the top of the jersey and you can see it, but it’s not all over the place. It’s enough you know it’s there,” Friedman said.

“If I’m a player I’m saying ‘Yeah I understand, but it’s time.’ No more of this ‘it’s tradition, we don’t want to touch these jerseys.’ If the Boston Celtics can have it, and the New York Knicks can have it…

“If I’m a player I’m simply saying it’s time. If you want us to agree to give back money you have to agree to maximize revenues.”

It will also be important to know that if the NHL follows the NBA, jerseys purchased at retail outlets will generally not have the advertisement logo on them.

Last summer, Ken Rosenthal best summed up the idea of putting ads on MLB jerseys that would probably mirror what some New York Ranger and NHL fans are feeling: “Traditionalists would hate it, but the pandemic has created exceptional financial circumstances and such ads would be an easy way to make money.”




Time is running out for the New York Rangers to start a season on January 1

New York Rangers, Igor Shesterkin

The NHL and the New York Rangers are running out of time to start the season on January 1 as previously planned, with a variety of COVID-19 problems standing in the way. There is uncertainty on many fronts.

With virus cases surging across North America and the reality that there will be a bigger revenue shortfall than owners originally feared, questions have arisen about amending the current CBA agreement, which has put the start of the season in jeopardy.

The NHL is facing similar problems that MLB had to start their season, as the issue is how to deal with finances in the current pandemic. The Associated Press has reported that less than five months since the CBA agreement, the league has asked players to increase salary deferrals to 20% or 26% and increasing the escrow caps. With the current thinking that the season will not include a full slate of 82 games, the season is shorter than a full 82 games, players could balk at taking pro-rated salaries while escrow amounts are increased.

The current CBA ensures a 50/50 split of hockey-related revenue; includes players deferring 10% of their salary for the upcoming season; and puts a cap on how much money will be kept in escrow over the length of the deal.

Speaking of the virus, there has been an increase in reported cases among players, as multiple Columbus Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Team facilities are open for voluntary workouts with protocols in place, though those teams had to close off-ice areas.

One thing is fairly certain for next season, which is a temporary realignment of divisions, including an all-Canadian division.

This division makes sense since the border with the U.S. is closed to nonessential travel through Dec. 21 and likely beyond. Bettman was quoted earlier this month saying that the NHL isn’t moving those seven teams south of the border “so we have to look at alternative ways to play.”

Multiple sources have stated that the rest of the NHL will likely play in these divisions:

— New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, and Boston.

— A division with Arizona, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, Vegas, Colorado, Dallas, and either Minnesota or St. Louis.

— A division with St. Louis or Minnesota, Chicago, Nashville, Detroit, Columbus, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Florida.

Playoffs in the same divisions would determine the final four playing for the Stanley Cup.

All of this will need to be worked out soon if the league wants to start playing on January 1. The league will need to have a training camp of roughly two weeks would need to happen before opening night. The later the season starts, the fewer games there might be as the general consensus is that the Stanley Cup should probably be awarded before the re-scheduled Summer Olympics open in Tokyo on July 23.





Disagreement on CBA puts the New York Rangers season start date in question

National Hockey League, NHL

A Wednesday meeting between the NHL and the NHLPA did not bode well for the New York Rangers to start a new season on January 1. According to Elliot Friedman of Sportsnet, the league’s proposal’s to modify the CBA were not met with a great deal of enthusiasm from the player’s union.

“There were audible gasps when this was presented” on the NHLPA conference call, one player said of the proposals when the NHLPA held a call with members for 2.5 hours on Wednesday.

According to Friedman, the league presented these two “gasp” worthy proposals:

The first asked for changes solely to the upcoming season. Deferred compensation went to 20 percent; escrow to 25. There were no other alterations. The second asked for deferred compensation to be raised to 26 percent for next season. Escrow was not touched until years four-to-six of the CBA, rising from six percent to between 8.5 and nine.

Basically, the league position is this: the CBA is a 50-50 revenue split, and COVID-related damages are more significant than what was projected even four months ago. There’s going to be a shortfall, and it must be addressed.

Besides the idea the union hates the idea of escrow, Friedman reports that the union had some other reactions.

“We just made a deal, so why should it be changed?” “In the past, when we’ve been unhappy with a CBA, we’ve had to live with it,” “Why did this get proposed so late, we didn’t need a gun to our heads,” “If we agree to this, who’s to say it won’t happen again,” and “They knew this was going to happen all along, didn’t they?”

This may end up leading to some negative public relations similar to what Major League Baseball experienced last spring when their league and union very publically disagreed on how to deal with the loss of revenue during a worldwide pandemic.

As the two sides continue talking the clock is ticking as they figure out ways to come to some sort of agreement on schedule, safety protocols, and the money flow issues so that they can begin their season on the targeted date of January 1.




The New York Rangers may play in a shortened 2020-21 season

New York Rangers

One of the things that the New York Rangers might have to prepare for in getting ready for the 2020-21 season in a reduced number of games. According to some sources, according to Sportsnet.ca, is that the NHL is looking to play a season that could be as few as 56 games to as many as 72. It does not appear that the league is ready to play a full schedule as in past years, as the sources say that the NHL wants to award the Stanley Cup around July 15.

This is also going on the assumption that the league continues to target January 1 as a start date, and that the league may employ “mini-hubs” as a way to start the season and reduce the impact that COVID-19 might have on starting or finishing a season.

According to TSN.ca and their NHL insider Pierre LeBrun, there are now 16 players on the Return to Play committee, as compared to the Return to Play committee last spring that was made up of five players.

LeBrun adds that it appears the committee is working in a different fashion compared to the one from last spring, working more internally with the NHL Players’ Association as the PA and NHL engage in higher-level communication. Even though the NHLPA has indicated its desire to play the full 82-game schedule, that would take the league into late August, which does not seem likely.

The more than likely scenario would be that the NHL would adopt a schedule that would likely be modeled on the 2020 MLB season in which travel was limited through geographical play. Dates would have to be left open, either in season or following the targeted end date, to accommodate postponements and/or accommodate breaks from the mini-hubs that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman alluded to in a conference call on Tuesday.

One of the issues around a shortened season is player salaries. The CBA extension last summer agreeing to 72 percent of their gross pay for the upcoming season. The NHLPA feels this number is set whether they play one game or 70-something games. However, owners feel those salaries should be prorated, especially if there’s no clear path to attendance, something that is less likely to happen as number spike throughout the country.

The expectation is that the league will propose prorating. It is unknown whether that would be coupled with a threat not to play unless the union makes a concession. It is also unknown how NHLPA would respond to such a situation, but the union has been aware of this possibility for some time.

There has been speculation that if a January 1 start date is set, teams would want to have training camps set for around December 15, with the seven teams that did not make last year’s playoffs having a few extra days of camp.

Regardless, the NHL and the NHLPA will have a very busy month ahead if they want to start on January 1.