NHL players returning to hometown at center of commissioner’s concerns

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The NHL aims to bring players back to their hometown, test COVID-19 and resume play, Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Friday.

“At the top, I think we had 17% of our players outside of North America and 56% of our players were not in the markets in which their teams operate,” said Commissioner Bettman to NBC Sports. Network before the first phase of the 2020 NHL Draw. “But the goal is to bring everyone back, get everyone tested, make sure the right protocols are in place because health and security is paramount. And then with a little luck, as a group, we can retain COVID-19, gather everyone in the cities and then end the season with a big tournament. “The NHL ended its season on March 12 due to concerns about the coronavirus and the team’s facilities were closed at that time. As part of the NHL return to play plan, 24 teams will compete for the Stanley Cup and limited training sessions may resume in cities starting June 8.

Phase 3, the start of training camps, is scheduled to begin on July 10.

Phase 4 will begin with the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, which will include 16 teams playing eight of the best 5 rounds, and a round robin among the top four teams (in percentage points) in each conference to determine the standings for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The eight teams that advance from the Top 5 series will join the top four teams from each playoff conference.

Qualifications will be held in two pivotal cities to be identified – one for the 12 participating Eastern Conference teams and one for the 12 Western Conference teams – from a date to be determined.

Commissioner Bettman said the NHL is in talks with the NHL Players’ Association to select the major cities and settle the requirements for restarting play.

“We have worked very hard with the Players’ Association to isolate and focus on the central cities to ensure that we have the right protocols in place and that all the necessary and appropriate surrounding agreements for us to return to play are in place . “” Said the Commissioner. “It was a very collaborative effort, and I hope everything comes together very, very quickly. ”

The team’s facilities have been authorized to reopen for Phase 2, which includes voluntary on and off ice training in small groups.

Training camps may open on condition that medical and security conditions allow and that the parties have reached an agreement on the resumption of play. Players entering facilities for voluntary training have been subjected to compulsory tests for COVID-19. The NHL announced on June 19 that more than 200 players had undergone several tests and 11 were positive. Any player who tested positive went into isolation and followed the protocols of the Centers for Disease Control and Health Canada.

“We have protocols in place for phase 2,” said Commissioner Bettman. “There have been a handful of positive tests, but no more for participation in hockey than for people who have re-entered the markets in which their teams play.”

The commissioner was also asked about the role he hopes the NHL can play in the fight against racial injustice. The death of George Floyd, a black man, in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, sparked protests across the United States and led many NHL players to express their support for the Black Lives Matter.

“In the final analysis for me and for everyone,” said Commissioner Bettman, “it was a wake-up call that we have to do more, we have to do better, we have to be more aware of ourselves and we must be part of a positive and constructive approach to ensure that everyone knows that racism has no place in our game, and that our game is inclusive and is for everyone, and that is our goal. ”



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