The NHL and the NHL Players' Association have agreed on the return-to-play protocols for this season, according to multiple reports Sunday, July 5.
The sides reportedly were still negotiating an extension to their collective bargaining agreement. The NHLPA's executive committee must approve the protocols, and then that document — as well as the CBA extension — will be put to a vote of all NHL players, according to reports. The NHL's board of governors also must ratify the final packages.
According to hockey insider Bob McKenzie of TSN, teams are targeting a return to training camp on July 13 (Phase 3) before reporting to two hub cities — expected to be Toronto and Edmonton — for games. The 24-team playoff (Phase 4) is set to begin Aug. 1.
Teams will be allowed to have a maximum of 30 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies during Phase 3, according to McKenzie. He added, citing the 40-page protocol document, that any player may opt out of Phase 3 and Phase 4 without penalty but must notify his team in writing by 5 p.m. ET Tuesday.
Dates and deadlines are subject to change.
TSN also reported that there will be daily tests for those inside the NHL bubble, including players/coaches/staff members, officials, ice crew, security, hotel bartenders, food service staff, arena food and beverage, hotel housekeeping, hotel kitchen staff and transportation. Failure to comply with the protocols in the bubble "could lead to significant financial penalties, and potentially the loss of draft picks," TSN reported.
If a player tests positive for COVID-19 they will be deemed "unfit to play," which will be treated as a hockey-related injury under the CBA, according to TSN.
Play in the NHL was stopped on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed playoff schedule would end with a Stanley Cup champion in early October.