The National Hockey League announced early Tuesday afternoon that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will make an announcement today at 4:30 p.m. ET regarding the NHL Return to Play Plan for the 2019-20 NHL season. It will air on NBCSN and NHL Network in the United States as well as Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada and will be streamed live on NHL.com and across NHL Social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube).
As of 1 PM ET, there were no reports on what this announcement would specifically be but TSN NHL Insider Bob McKenzie tweeted this right after the NHL’s press release
“NHL GMs will get the details of the NHL RTP format on a 3 p.m. ET conference call with the league.”
On Friday, the NHLPA voted 29-2 in favor of the NHL Return To Play Committee’s 24-team playoff proposal that would lift the Coronavirus pause the league took on March 12 and ensure that a 2020 Stanley Cup champion would still be crowned.
The NHLPA Executive Board has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format, subject to reaching an overall agreement with the League on resuming the 2019-20 season: https://t.co/SIzQYyooEE pic.twitter.com/9TftmApiGJ
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) May 23, 2020
Then on Monday, the league released a 22-page comprehensive memo that detailed Phase 2 of the NHL Return which the NHL and NHLPA hope to begin in early June.
“It has not yet been determined when precisely Phase 2 will start or how long it may last,” said the 22-page detailed memo that outlined testing and all safety precautions that will be needed to give the approved playoff tournament a chance. “We are continuing to monitor developments in each of the club’s markets, and may adjust the overall timing if appropriate, following discussion with all relevant parties.
It’s very comprehensive … (it) cannot mitigate all risk,” the memo stated. “A range of clinical scenarios exist, from very mild to fatal outcome. COVID-19 generally affects older age groups and those with previously existing medical conditions, more so than younger, and otherwise healthy, individuals. We recognize that players and personnel have family and household members who may fall into these vulnerable categories.”
The memo also explained what is clearly the most important precaution that can be performed, testing for Phase 2 and going forward.
“Players and staff will be administered COVID-19 nasal swab tests two days before training begins, and will be tested twice a week afterwards,” the memo read. “They will also perform daily self-administered temperature and symptom checks at home before heading to their team’s facility. Clubs must also administer a separate temperature and symptom check at the entrance of the club facility. As an over-riding principle, testing of asymptomatic players and club personnel must be done in the context of excess testing capacity, so as to not deprive health care workers, vulnerable populations and symptomatic individuals from necessary diagnostic tests.”
While Bettman has been very visible in the media, this will be the first formal announcement he has made since the NHL paused it’s 2019-20 regular season. With the regular season now over, the Boston Bruins (44-14-12, 100 points) are now your 2019-20 President’s Trophy winners after finishing atop the NHL standings. Will Bettman confirm Tuesday that the Bruins will now get a chance to get back to the Stanley Cup Final for a second straight season and hoist their second Stanley Cup in nine years?
Stay tuned here for all your Bruins and NHL Return news!