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Islanders News: Sorokin saga, ‘safe conditions in the bubble’

The NHL continues momentum toward Return to Play and a new CBA, but will Ilya Sorokin be left out?

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Team Canada plays Team Russia in a 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship exhibition game
I’ll just wait here while you all figure this out.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Several concurrent things affect the Islanders of today and tomorrow as this, the year of some bizarro lord, 2020, marches on.

The NHL and NHLPA were negotiating “into the night” this week to resolve details of agreements to start training camp for the 24-teams in the playoff/qualifier tournament, which at latest bet was set to take place in “hub” cities of Edmonton and Toronto, now that the latest waves of the virus has pushed U.S. hub city candidates out of the picture.

As you likely know, the league has insisted that players like top Islanders goalie property Ilya Sorokin unable to sign for this season, where they could burn a year — in Sorokin’s case the only year — off an ELC.

It seems that Gary being Gary, they’ve treated their stance as a bargaining chip to be cashed for some other concession. But as Arthur Staple put it in the Athletic, Sorokin and the Isles don’t have a lot of time:

So it’s hard to keep up. But Sorokin still needs a contract, a visa, a flight from Moscow and a quarantine, either for eight or 14 days, until he can participate in any Islanders activities. If the agreement isn’t put forth until next week, the players would need 1-2 days to vote and only then could Sorokin begin all those steps. As noted in our last update, the goalie has been ready to sign for several weeks, so there still is hope he would make it over for some part of camp.

Staple also had a new episode of the “No Sleep Till Belmont” podcast, with once-and-future playoff foe Brian Boyle of the Florida Panthers.

The details (thus far, still to be confirmed, etc.) on Return To Play and other negotiations, including the league agreeing to Olympic participation in 2022 and 2026 [Sportsnet]:

By and large, though, players seem to believe the league can create safe conditions in the bubble environment.


Not only do players have to ratify the return-to-play plan and CBA extension through a vote once everything is completed, but teams have to get through training camps in their own markets safely before travelling to hub cities.

Eighteen of the returning clubs are based in the U.S., including some in COVID-19 hot spots.

History fun: June 30 in Islanders history had the Nino trade and the Ryan Pulock draft pick, a great pick that took a while to age just so. [Isles]


  • Several black NHLers lead a discussion on diversity in hockey...but is Hockey Canada listening? [TSN]
  • Ranking the 24 teams heading into the playoffs. The Isles are below the fold. [Sportsnet]
  • July 1 has come and gone. When will all these pending free agents become, well, free agents? [TSN]
  • Take it from an Oilers fan: Kevin Lowe is among the most underwhelming Hall of Fame inductees in its history. [Copper n Blue]