Key questions, answers on the protocols of phases 3, 4 of the return to play plan


Phase 3 is scheduled to begin at the team’s facilities on July 13. The teams will then travel to two centralized central cities on July 26 for Phase 4, which will resume play, with Stanley Cup qualifications starting August 1.The NHL ended the season on March 12 due to concerns over the coronavirus and announced its return to play plan on May 26 with 24 teams competing for the Stanley Cup.

Play will resume with the playoffs, which will include 16 teams playing eight of the top 5 playoffs and a round robin among the top four teams by percentage points in each conference to determine the standings for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Here are the main questions and answers on the protocols of phases 3 and 4:


How many players can participate in training camp?

The alignments will be limited to 30 skaters, but each team can have an unlimited number of goalkeepers.

Who can participate?

Only players eligible for the 2020 playoffs can participate.

Are there limitations on and off-ice activities?

Unlike Phase 2 small group voluntary training, there is no limit to the number of players participating in training, and coaches, general managers and hockey operations staff are allowed to interact directly with the players.

What are the guidelines for COVID-19 testing and who should be tested?

Players, team staff and other staff members who will be in the vicinity of the players (ice and building maintenance, security, etc.) will be tested 48 hours before returning to team facilities and all the two days thereafter.

What other precautions should players and staff with access to players follow?

They will perform self-checking of symptoms and temperature at home daily no later than two hours before entering team facilities. In addition, teams will administer separate temperature and symptom controls at team facilities before allowing players or staff to enter.

What happens if a player develops COVID-19 symptoms and a positive test?

Anyone who develops symptoms or comes into contact with a person who has symptoms or whose test for COVID-19 is positive must immediately inform the team’s medical personnel and self-isolate. The person will be immediately assessed by the team doctor, who will consult with the team’s infectious disease expert and determine next steps.

If this person is positive, they can return to the team facilities after the disappearance of any fever and improvement of their respiratory symptoms after a negative test twice at 24 hour intervals. The individual may also return to team facilities after a minimum of 10 days of automatic isolation after the onset of symptoms if he has had no fever or respiratory symptoms for more than 72 hours.

What if a player is asymptomatic and tests positive?

If an individual is asymptomatic and tests positive, he will undergo a confirmation test to verify the initial result. Asymptomatic individuals whose initial tests are confirmed positive by the second test will have to isolate themselves until they are eliminated medically.

This requires two negative tests at least 24 hours apart or the passage of 10 days from the initial positive test, provided that the person remained asymptomatic throughout the period of his self-isolation.

If the second test is negative, the asymptomatic person will remain isolated and will be tested again after 24 hours. If this test remains negative, the person will be allowed to leave solitary confinement and resume full participation in team activities if approved by the team doctor.


Where will the games take place?

The matches will be played and the teams will be hosted in the secure zones of phase 4 in two main cities which will be announced. The secure areas will include hotels, restaurants, training facilities and the arena, where exhibition, qualification and post-season games will be played.

How many players will be allowed in the secure areas?

The alignments will be limited to 31 players, including the goalkeepers.

What is the limit on the number of people that each team can bring to secure areas?

Each team will be entitled to a maximum of 52 people inside the secure area, including property, players, coaches, managers and staff.

Where will the players stay?

Players will stay in single occupancy hotel rooms with each team assigned to a designated floor. Players are not allowed to enter other people’s rooms. They will have access to the bars, restaurants, swimming pools and fitness centers of the hotel provided they respect the guidelines regarding social distancing.

Are masks required inside the secure area?

Anyone inside the secure area should wear a surgical cloth or mask when outside their room. The masks can be removed during exercise, play, food or drink. Coaches are not required to wear masks on the bench. Officials on ice are not required to wear masks during matches.

How long will the teams stay in the hubs?

Qualifying teams will remain in the main cities to compete in the first two rounds of the qualifiers. The four teams that have passed the second round will meet in one of the two main cities for the conference final and the Stanley Cup final.

Can the families of the players visit them?

Family members can join players in secure areas for the conference final and the cup final.

What are the guidelines for COVID-19 testing in the secure area?

Each person will be tested three times, 48 ​​hours apart, in the seven days preceding their team’s charter flight to the hub city. Once inside the secure area, individuals will undergo daily COVID-19 tests, symptom controls and temperature tests. The protocols for a positive test result are similar to phase 3.

Will the identity of players who test positive be revealed?

No. If a player is positive or develops symptoms during Phases 3 and 4, teams are not allowed to share this information with the media or the public without the approval of the NHL, in consultation with the NHLPA.

Can a player leave the secure area and return?

A player can leave if he receives an authorization for medical reasons or if there are extenuating circumstances such as the birth of a child, illness or death in his family, or a family event, such as a marriage. When the player returns, he will need to quarantine in his hotel room until he has received at least four consecutive negative test results over a four-day period.

What happens if a player leaves the secure area without authorization or if a team otherwise violates the rules of the protocol?

Players who leave without authorization may be subject to phase 4 removal or a strict quarantine of 10 to 14 days with improved testing and monitoring upon return. Teams who break the rules of the protocol will face significant penalties, including fines and / or loss of choice in the NHL Entry Draft.

Can a player withdraw from the return to play plan?

Any player can choose not to participate in phases 3 and 4 without discipline or penalty. The player must inform his team in writing within 72 hours of the end of the ratification process.


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