The NHL will allow players to use team facilities in early June, according to The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta. The exact date players can begin is still to be determined. This would start the NHL’s phase two towards resuming the season, which will likely be in a 24-team Stanley Cup Playoff format.
The NHL and players association sent out a 29-page protocol for phase two on Sunday night. It will be released to the public today, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. It said that no timetable is given for when phase two starts or how long it may last.
The memo expressed that player participation is phase two is optional and clubs cannot force players to come back to their cities and skate there.
The league has an agreement with the players’ association that only six players can be on the ice at the same time to practice social distancing and no coaches or other team personnel can skate with them.
In order to test players for COVID-19, teams must keep the testing capacity in mind and not take tests away from health care workers as well as people who show symptoms for it. Players are required to wear facemasks when in the facility, especially at times where social distancing cannot be practiced, at all times other than.
According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, players and staff will be given a coronavirus nasal swab test two days before they begin skating. Afterward, the players will have to be tested at least two more times per week and aware of their temperature. They must be mindful of whether they are showing symptoms for the virus every day.
Players who are quarantined in another city home to a different NHL team will be allowed access to the team’s facility in accordance with scheduling and staff availability.
Phase three of the return to play plan is mini-training camps, which the NHL hopes to open in July, and phase four is resuming the season.
The league issued a phased return to sport protocol on Sunday morning, which can be found here.
The NHL has been paused since March 12.
By Harrison Brown