NHL and NHLPA provisionally agree on protocols to resume play as CBA talks continue

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The NHL and NHLPA have tentatively agreed protocols for resuming play, Sportsnet can confirm. The two parties continue to negotiate an extension of the collective agreement.

Once an extension to the CBA is agreed, the NHL board of directors and all members of the NHLPA will vote on both the extension and the return to play protocols that were agreed to on Sunday.

The newly agreed protocols cover phases 3 and 4 of the NHL return to play plan. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, this includes a framework on how the return to play would be canceled if the COVID-19 virus could not be contained.

According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, return to play protocols include a withdrawal clause for any player who does not wish to resume play this season without penalty. He added that coaches will not have to wear face covers on the bench during games and no dress code will be imposed on players on game day.

Friedman also reports that return-to-play protocols include a framework for implementing the two main cities in the league.

“People who leave … without permission may be subject to eviction, including”, says Friedman, adding that “violations … will result in significant penalties for clubs, including possible fines and / or loss of choice draft. “

In addition, Friedman reports that all players will undergo a “pre-participation medical examination”. If the doctor administering the exam and the team’s infectious disease expert determine that a player is unable to resume play due to the “significant risk of developing serious illness” from COVID-19, that player can request a second opinion.

In May, the NHL and NHLPA agreed on a framework for what the return to play would look like and the two sides are negotiating since finer details. The return-to-play format will see 24 teams return to the ice in two main cities, each hosting a conference. The top four teams from each conference by point percentage at the time of the season break in March will compete to determine the playoff rankings. The next eight teams from each conference have been matched based on percentage points and will play the best of five series to determine the remaining playoff spots.

The NHL originally envisioned that 10 cities would be hubs for these games, Edmonton and Toronto would have to be chosen.

The NHL return plan was divided into four stages. Phase 1 began shortly after the season’s suspension and saw all of the team’s facilities closed and players allowed to return home. Phase 2 started on June 8 and continues, with players allowed to return to the team’s facilities to skate in small groups after a negative test for COVID-19. According to the NHL, from June 8 to 29, more than 250 players were tested using phase 2 and 15 positive protocols. In addition, 11 players tested positive outside of phase 2 protocols during this same period.

Phase 3 of the return plan would cover training camps for returning teams and possibly travel to the main cities, while phase 4 would cover matches. The exact dates for the start of these phases will not be determined until the CBA negotiations are completed and the Board of Governors and members of the NHLPA approve the plans and the CBA at a vote.

With files from the Associated Press



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