It’s been a difficult year for everyone, including the NHL. Having to stop activities in March 2020 due to the climbing COVID-19 pandemic, the league eventually made a return in August with a 24 playoffs’ format (sort of)… in two bubble cities. The format appeared to be very successful and as we know, the Tampa Bay Lightning prevailed and won the COVID Cup. Since then, the NHL and NHLPA have been monitoring closely the status of this pandemic, which is seeing spikes everywhere in North America. But it appears that an end might just be coming and hockey will be back on our television sets.
What? No, the NHL has not made an official release and not definite dates have been published. The latest that we’ve heard is a disagreement between the league and its players on the amount the players would be getting in a return to play, or how much of the escrow would have to be set to facilitate a return. Players are divided on the topic with some taking the hard line and others willing to make concessions.
A sign of things to come?
We have learned today that young Montreal Canadiens’ centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi is leaving his hometown Pori Assat in the SM-Liiga league as the team announced. Yes, it appears like his loan agreement with the Finnish club is over and KK is heading back to Montreal, which leads to believe that the NHL is getting ready to announce a return to play.
We shall see if other NHL players on loan in Europe will follow suit soon or if they will wait for an official announcement but it appears like Kotkaniemi wanted to be in Montreal with his teammates when camp is announced to start.
Will we see the NHL returning on time for early January as they were planning to do during the COVID Cup? Time will tell but if Kotkaniemi’s decision is any indication, it seems like it’s looking that way. Go Habs Go!