The National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) have reached a consensus as to when the season should start with its competition expected to resume on 1 August.
The announcement was made following a successful discussion between the two parties on a Return to Play Plan and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). As part of the tentative agreement, the following dates have been established. Formal training camps will begin on 13 July with 26 July earmarked for clubs to travel to hub cities.
In addition, the agreement will add on an additional four years to the term of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and includes transition rules and a new critical dates calendar.
In terms of health and safety regarding the upcoming season, there are 47 pages of protocols that determine agreed measures and guidelines. Some of the new rules include each team being limited to 30 skaters and an unlimited number of goaltenders for camp and a total roster of up to 31 players. Each team is also limited to 52 personnel per game city, and must include two trainers, a doctor and compliance officer in addition to players, coaches and management.
The tentative agreement is now subject to approval by the NHL’s Board of Governors, as well as the NHLPA’s Executive Board followed by the full NHLPA membership. The respective review and approval processes will take place over the next few days and there will be no further comment until those processes are completed.
The NHLPA and NHL have also announced details of the frameworks that will govern players and clubs during Phase 3 (formal training camps) and Phase 4 (resumption of competition). The protocols will come into effect only upon ratification of the CBA by the NHLPA and NHL.
The NHL follows in the footsteps of MLB which has also recently outlined its plans during the global health pandemic, with the virus still prominent in the US. Additionally, MLS will commence with a new tournament on 8 July, albeit without FC Dallas as the side was pulled from the competition due to a number of players testing positive for COVID-19.