The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association agreed on protocols to resume the season on Sunday, an important step towards hockey’s return this summer.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press that there is agreement on protocols for training camps and games, and sides are still negotiating an extension of the collective agreement, which is vital to the process.
A person with knowledge of the situation said that the return-to-play protocols would only come into effect if each side voted to approve the full package of the CBA extension and the return-to-play agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as the CBA talks are still ongoing.
To complete a return, two thirds of the league̵
When everything is ratified, a pandemic shutdown that began in mid-March ends. Games will resume in late July or early August, with 24 teams participating in extended playoffs and the Stanley Cup awarded in October.
The agreement was first reported by TSN.
Assuming the owners and players agree, the teams are expected to open training camps on July 13 before traveling to games in two “hub” cities. Since June 8, players have been able to skate and train outside the ice in voluntary small group training – almost three months after the end of hockey on March 12, with 189 games remaining in the regular season.
The return to the playoffs is seen as a thrilling win for the NHL, which, like other top leagues, had the prospect of losing millions more without TV season earnings being pegged. There were deep concerns about canceling the rest of the season, and positive tests didn’t help: 26 players since June 8, in addition to almost a dozen before.
Boston defender Matt Grzelcyk called the positive test results “eye-opening” but expected. Some players have raised concerns about return uncertainty in recent weeks.
“We obviously have a unique situation right now,” said Montreal goalkeeper Carey Price. “The NHL and NHLPA are trying to get the best out of a very difficult situation. I would like to play in the future, but we have many questions that need to be answered and many scenarios that need to be addressed before I can vote yes or no. “
Once the game continues, a player’s positive coronavirus test result is not expected to complete the game. The league has announced that it will isolate any player or employee who tests positive and acknowledge that an outbreak will threaten the rest of the season.
The league is responsible for testing players daily once they arrive in their city of play.
“Players will be fairly well protected from disclosure,” said Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson during a conference call in June. “It will be a very different way for all of us and us to watch hockey and be in a team because the players are really well protected throughout the process.”
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