The NHL and NHLPA have finalized the protocols for the resumption of play this summer. These protocols included what the two NHL hub cities will be once play resumes along with the last two phases of the return to play plan. After many speculations, the league announced that the two hub cities will be Toronto and Edmonton in Canada. This was first reported on July 1 but wasn’t finalized until last night.
Does this mean that the season will definitely come back this summer? Maybe.
What still needs to be done?
The NHLPA’s executive committee still needs to approve the return to play protocols brought forth by the league and NHLPA. The NHLPA executive committee consists of one representative from each of the 31 teams. Both sides are also still in talks about finalizing the details on extending the current CBA. Once those protocols are approved by the NHLPA executive committee, a full membership vote from all NHL players will take place. Lastly, once all players approve the protocols, the NHL’s board of governors must ratify both the return to play protocols and the CBA extension.
When will the league resume play exactly?
There’s no exact date as to when play will resume. However, the league has set target dates for the last two phases in the return to play plan. The target date for the start of phase three is July 13 according to sources. The league has previously announced that phase three would start on July 10. If the board of governors ratifies the package, all 24 teams will travel to the hub cities either on July 25 or July 26. The Eastern Conference teams will go to Toronto and the Western Conference teams will go to Edmonton.
Where will the Stanley Cup Finals take place after the 24-team tournament?
The Stanley Cup Finals will take place at Rogers Place in Edmonton around early October.
Is the league going to penalize players should they opt-out?
The protocols also include other details that other sports have implemented. For one, the NBA has said that they will not penalize any of their players should they opt-out of the season. The same goes for the NHL. The only difference is that the NHL doesn’t require a reason as to why a player chooses to opt-out like the NBA. Players have until Tuesday 5 p.m. EST to let their teams know if they are opting out.
What about family members? Are they allowed to travel with players?
Family members aren’t allowed to be with players until the conference finals.
What are the consequences should players or staff don’t comply with the protocols?
The league said that “all individuals shall maintain physical distancing (a minimum of 6-foot distance) at all times throughout Phase 4, to the extent possible.” These include being on buses, planes, at restaurants and in any social circumstances. The league will also provide face coverings if an individual doesn’t have one of their own. These face coverings must be worn at all times in the secure zones. These secure zones aren’t known at this time. Players don’t have to wear face coverings during exercises and coaches don’t have to wear them while on the bench. Teams could face “significant financial penalties” and potential loss of draft picks should any team not comply with these protocols.