We’re gradually getting closer to the NHL’s return, and both the league and its Players’ Association reportedly have finalized a tentative agreement regarding return-to-play protocols.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, players received a 40-page document outlining the NHL’s proposed return-to-play plan Sunday night. Players may opt out of Phases 3 or 4 without penalty as long as they notify their team franchise in writing no later than 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Here are some of the details of the protocol, per Mckenzie and TSN’s Frank Seravalli:
— Teams must adhere to a 30-skater limit “with an unlimited number of goalies” in Phase 3.
— Only players eligible to play in the resumed season may skate in Phase 3.
— Each participating team must submit a list of participating players no later than Thursday (July 9).
— All players and staff will be tested “48 hours prior to any individual returning to club training facilities.” Testing will move to an every-other-day basis afterward.
— Test results are expected to be made available within 24 hours. Players may not return to their team’s training facilities until they return a negative test.
— Temperature and symptom checks will be conducted daily on individuals “less than two hours before going to” and upon entering the training facility.
— Players that haven’t already undergone a Pre-Participation Medical Examination (PPME) must do so before participating in Phase 3.
— Any player that’s determined to be “at substantial risk of developing a serious illness as a result of exposure to the novel coronavirus” will be considered “unfit to play” and will be prohibited from participating in Phases 3 or 4 of the return-to-play plan.
— If a player develops COVID-19 symptoms, they must self-isolate, notify team staff and go through any necessary testing protocols.
— Teams are not allowed to disclose any “information relating to a positive test results or to a person developing COVID-19 symptoms during Phase 3.”
— Players participating in Phase 3 may not work out at any public facility.
— Teams may not conduct fitness testing with players during Phase 3.
— Face coverings are required when entering a facility during Phase 3 and whenever social distancing cannot be maintained outside of players exercising or skating.
— The following people will be tested in the two bubble cities: Players, coaches, staff, officials, ice crew, security, hotel bartenders, food service staff, arena food and beverage, hotel housekeeping, hotel kitchen staff, transportation.
— Bench areas (including flooring, bench surface, the top of dasher board, water bottle area and glass) will be disinfected between period.
— Teams that fail to comply with these protocols “could lead to significant financial penalties, and potentially the loss of draft picks.”
(Any dates listed above are subject to change based on if/when the document is ratified, per McKenzie.)
In the meantime, the NHL and NHLPA still are negotiating the final details behind a new collective bargaining agreement. According to McKenzie, both the return-to-play plan and the new CBA must be ratified by both the NHL Board of Governors, the NHLPA executive board and a full membership vote before going into effect.
No ratification can occur, however, until the CBA memorandum of understanding is complete.
Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports