The NHL and NHLPA tentatively agreed on Phases 3 (training camp) and Phase 4 (round-robin, qualifying round and 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs) of the NHL Return To Play Sunday night and inched closer to a modified extension of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In the famous words of Lloyd in ‘Dumb and Dumber:
The chances of an NHL Return to the ice within the next month are definitely better than Lloyd’s were with Mary but there will be strict daily safety protocols that will have to be met for this plan to work. The NHLPA and NHL Board Of Governors will also need to approve that CBA extension ASAP or by Friday at the latest, in order of Phase 3 to begin next Monday.
That means that the Boston Bruins will be back on the ice together at Warrior Arena a week from today and the 23 other teams will report to their respective practice facilities. Unlike in Phase 4 where Eastern Conference players will be sequestered in their bubbles in Toronto and the Western Conference players in their Edmonton bubble, NHLers will not be in lockdown for Phase 3 until they report to the hub cities on July 26. While not having the players simply go straight to the hub cities and into their bubbles seems like a risky chance to take, there will be some extensive safety protocols in place until they do arrive in Toronto and Edmonton.
Players will be required to be tested every day when they come to their practice facility and required to take temperature checks at home before they leave for the rink and then when they arrive. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, here’s what will happen if should there be too many positive tests or if a team cannot meet protocol or if Coronavirus decides to rear its ugly head in any way:
Circumstances for Postponement, Delay, or Cancellation of Phase 3…(1x)
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 6, 2020
As colleague Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now pointed out as well, players with pre-existing health conditions that put them at higher risk, such as Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi who has Diabetes, could be deemed ineligible to play. Also, players have until 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday to notify their teams they’re opting out of participating in Phase 3 or 4, under the protocols tentatively agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA. The NHL and NHLPA also agreed that players might opt-out without penalty, and those players will also be eligible for their share of playoff bonuses. The owners doubled the size of bonuses, from $16 million to $32 million. Qualifying Round bonuses will be $20,000. Stanley Cup winners will get $240,000.
As of noon Monday, there had been no public comments from anyone within the Bruins organization and it was not known yet, how many players have reported to Warrior Arena, how many players have tested positive for COVID19 or if any players were leaning towards opting out of the NHL Return. As of now, only one unnamed Bruins player tested positive. As part of Phase 3 and 4 protocols, the NHL will not be reporting anymore positive COVID19 cases. The Athletic reported Friday that “multiple” St. Louis Blues had tested positive for COVID19 and that their practice was canceled. On Monday, the NHL announced nine more positive cases.
Note: TSN NHL Insider Bob McKenzie broke the news of the tentative agreement Sunday night and continued to release details Monday morning. Here’s his extensive thread that was continually being updated throughout the day Monday:
NHL and NHLPA have finalized tentative agreement on RTP Phase 3/4 protocols but are continuing to work on finalizing the details of the CBA MOU.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 5, 2020