NHL and NHLPA Finalize Tentative Agreement on Return-to-Play Phase 3 and 4 Protocols, Per Report from TSN

By Chris Pennington on July 6, 2020 at 8:05 am
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno (71) takes the faceoff in the first period against Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

A game of inches.

The NHL and NHLPA have finalized a tentative agreement on the return-to-play protocol for Phase 3 and Phase 4, per a report from TSN's Bob McKenzie.

These plans are held in a 40-page document (not yet released), but here are the main details so far from McKenzie:

  • A limit of 30 skaters in Phase 3 with an unlimited number of goalies; Only players eligible to play 2019-20 resumption permitted to skate in Phase 3
  • Any player may opt-out of Phase 3 and Phase 4 without penalty of any kind, but must make that decision and notify his club in writing by no later than 5 p.m. ET on July 7; Each of the 24 NHL clubs in Phase 3/4 must submit a list of participating players by no later than July 9.
  • There is a detailed breakdown of players returning to their home cities and what the quarantine requirements, ranging from 14 days to 7 days, depending on a myriad of circumstances that include mode of transportation, where they are coming from, and testing.
  • There is obviously a large section on testing, that includes all players and club personnel being tested 48 hours prior to any individual returning to club training facilities and on an every other day basis after that, with all results being available with 24 hours. If the test result is unavailable within the 24-hour period, the individual is not permitted to remain in club training facilities until such time that the test comes back negative.
  • There will be daily temperature and symptom checks for individuals at home (less than two hours before going to the training facility) and upon entry to the training facility.
  • All players who haven’t already had it as part of Phase 2 will undergo a Pre-Participation Medical Examination (PPME) prior to any Phase 3 activities but after any required quarantine period has been served.
  • Players who, after consultation with Club doctor who conducted PPME, and the Club’s infectious disease expert, are determined to be at substantial risk of developing a serious illness as a result of exposure to the novel coronavirus shall be deemed to be unfit to play and shall not be permitted to participate in either Phase 3 or Phase 4. A player may initiate a second opinion concerning his fitness to play status pursuant to Paragraph 5 of the Standard Player Contract.
  • If a player develops symptoms, or anyone in the player’s household does, he shall immediately notify the club medical staff, self-isolate and, if deemed appropriate, go through testing protocols.
  • Any player who tests positive for COVID-19 or has a resulting or related illness will be deemed “unfit to play” and it will be an illness arising out of his employment as a hockey player and treated as a hockey-related injury for all purposes under the CBA.
  • Absent prior approval by the League (who shall consult with the NHLPA), there shall be no disclosure by the Club to the media or to the public of information relating to a positive test result or to a person developing COVID-19 symptoms during Phase 3.
  • Players participating in Phase 3 are not permitted to work out or skate at any public facility. No fitness testing of players by clubs will be permitted during Phase 3. Permitted Phase 3 activities include all on/off-ice sessions with coaches, traditional training camp activities.
  • Face coverings are required for all individuals who enter a club training facility for Phase 3. Where social distancing cannot be maintained within the facility, face coverings are required other than when the player is exercising or on the ice.

The season is obviously still up in the air as a whole, as well as the notes listed above, so we shall see in the coming weeks what decisions are ultimately made.

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