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News and notes: NHL tournament start date set, player contracts extended and practice groups expanded

It’s been a busy day of news around the NHL, so let’s tie it all up in this article here.

Tournament starts July 30th

The NHL has reportedly selected July 30th as the start date for its 24-team tournament, the New York Posts’ Larry Brooks reported. Teams will reportedly take part in a two-week training camp before teams will fly to their respective hub cities on July 23rd and 24th. Teams will then play one exhibition game with the qualifying round games taking place soon after.

ESPN is reporting that the league knew it would be inevitable there would be Phase 2 outbreaks as players would still be unrestricted in their movements. In Phase 3 and 4, there will be more restrictions in place keeping players in “bubble environments” making outbreaks more unlikely. Negotiations are reportedly still ongoing as to what those phases will look like.

A Western Conference player reportedly told The Athletic “guys are not happy. This is why we better have a full player vote and not just an executive board vote. But I’m not convinced (NHLPA executive director) Don (Fehr) is going to allow that because he knows there’s so many of us on the fence. That’s why I think the league was trying to be hush-hush on these positive tests. In my opinion, no way we play.”

Extended player contracts

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Monday that expiring player contracts and work permits will be extended until Oct. 31. The NHL and NHLPA have reportedly agreed upon it. With the NHL league year typically running from July 1 to June 30, this means all players will be eligible to play through the league’s 24-team play-in format.

This also hints that we may see NHL Free Agency startup sometime in early November and potentially as soon as November 1st given the way the league schedule has operated in the past.

Here’s the current list of Flames players with expiring contracts according to Puckpedia:

RFA’s: Mark Jankowski, Andrew Mangiapane, Tobias Rieder, Oliver Kylington, Glenn Gawdin, Tyler Parsons, Justin Kirkland, Rinat Valiev, Ryan Lomberg, Andrew Nielsen and Nick Schneider.

UFA’s: Zac Rinaldo, TJ Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Derek Forbort, Erik Gustafsson, Michael Stone, Cam Talbot, Austin Czarnik, Alan Quine, Byron Froese and Buddy Robinson.

Practice groups to be expanded

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Monday that effective Tuesday, the league will allow Phase 2 skating groups to include up to 12 players. Small group workouts have been ongoing since June 8th and the updated numbers is reportedly a part of the second phase of the league’s return-to-play plan.

Training camps are scheduled to begin on July 10th.

On Twitter: @zjlaing