Additional Notes From The ‘Return To Play’ Plan

Sunday night the NHL and players’ association finalized a “tentative agreement” on the phases three and four protocols of the league’s return-to-play plan. While the complete agreement has yet to be officially released, publicly, details from the plan are beginning to emerge. Here are a few specifics from the plan.

If a player wants out:

Entering the bubble:

Every person will be tested three times, 48 hours apart, in the seven days prior to their charter flight to the bubble. They will not be subject to quarantine upon arrival, including for teams/players/staff coming from the United States. Daily testing will begin upon arrival. During the first five days inside the bubble (exhibition games), individuals will only be allowed to engage in social interaction with people from their own team’s traveling party.

Inside the bubble:

Each team will be permitted to bring a maximum of 52 individuals inside the secure zone, including ownership, players, coaches, executives and staff.

Teams are permitted to bring no more than 31 players. The list of each traveling part must be submitted to the NHL by July 13, the day training camps are scheduled to open.

Each team will have at least one physician, one security representative, one club Phase 4 compliance officer, and one content creator / social media member included in the traveling party.

Life inside the bubble:

Each bubble will be tightly secured, no one will be able to enter/exit that is not authorized. Players will be living in single occupancy rooms, no roommates, with each team assigned designated floors. Players are not permitted to enter each other’s rooms. Housekeeping will be provided every third day. Hotel bars and restaurants will be open and available in the bubble, provided social distancing is followed.

Players will have access to hotel pool and fitness centre. Each club will be provided with a designated meeting space in the hotel. Each person will also have access to contactless room service delivery, as well as delivery from local restaurants available for pick-up.

The NHL is also planning for league-approved “excursions” both inside and outside of the bubble. Think designated tee times at a local golf club, etc. All transportation will be provided to/from the excursion and social distancing, face coverings and personal hygiene measures will be mandatory. There will also be outdoor areas to walk, exercise and mingle on campus.

Breaking the bubble:

Penalties for breaking the bubble:

Authorized to leave the bubble:


Every person inside the NHL’s “bubble” will be tested for COVID-19 daily via nasal swab, also administered temperature checks and symptom screenings.

The list of people requiring daily testing is massive and includes but is not limited to: all players, staff, officials, arena ice crew, security, hotel bartenders, food service staff, arena food and beverage staff, hotel housekeeping, hotel kitchen and food prep staff, and bus drivers. Simply put, any person who has contact or may come into contact (even indirectly) will be tested daily.

With 24 teams inside the bubble (at 52 people per team), that is 1,248 tests required daily for team personnel only. Add in all of the other levels and it is easy to imagine the NHL requiring upwards of 2,000 tests daily to begin the 24-team tournament. That is 20,000 tests in first 10 days alone.

Positive tests results:

Coaches and face masks:

Keep it clean:

Dress Code:

Family assistance:

Family time:

Calling it off:

At any time before or during play in the 24-team tournament, the NHL and NHLPA have the ability to postpone, delay, move or cancel any games in the event conditions present “risk to player health and safety” and/or jeopardize “the integrity of the competition.”

Those conditions may include “an uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19 in the players of one or more clubs” participating in the tournament. No specific number of positive cases was provided in the protocol to define the “uncontrolled outbreak” threshold. The NHL has maintained that singular or even multiple isolated positive tests will not halt play.

The NHLPA may contest any ruling from commissioner Gary Bettman in the form of an “expedited arbitration of a grievance” before an impartial arbitrator.

More to come.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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2 Responses to Additional Notes From The ‘Return To Play’ Plan

  1. vanorm says:

    Sounds pretty well considered.

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