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NHL/NHLPA agree on RTP protocol, details in blog, CBA close to finalization

July 5, 2020, 11:35 PM ET [1 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The NHL and NHLPA reached an accord on 87-page return-to-play protocol for both Phases 3 and 4 on Sunday evening. Both sides continue to negotiate an extension to the collective bargaining agreement. As Sportsnet reports, once a CBA extension is agreed upon, the NHL’s board of governors and the full membership of the NHLPA will vote on both the extension and the return-to-play protocols that were agreed to on Sunday.

Per Bob McKenzie late-Sunday night:

The below is taken from tweets this evening by McKenzie, Elliotte Friedman, Chris Johnston and Frank Seravalli:
- In order for NHLPA membership to ratify, it would require a simple majority. The NHL B of G ratification process is not as arduous because: a) it can happen in one conference call; and b) the governors rarely, if ever, reject an agreement endorsed by commissioner Gary Bettman. (McKenzie)
- For any player wishing to opt out (penalty free) of Phase 3/4, the deadline for the player notifying his club in writing is three days after the ratification vote is complete (McKenzie, this is updated information, as early in the evening, the due date for opting out was reported as being July 7 at 5pm)
- Targeted date for Phase 3 is still July 13 (McKenzie, but this too could be subject to change)
- Cannot stress enough that dates are extremely fluid, but if the CBA MOU is tentatively agreed to tonight or tomorrow, with ratification to follow this week, the target of opening training camps (Phase 3) on Monday July 13 is still believed to be within the realm of possibility. (McKenzie)
- If that date doesn’t get pushed back, as previously reported, teams could report to the Hub cities of Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton (Western Conference) on or about July 26 with meaningful games (Phase 4) to begin play on or about Aug. 1.
- Return to Play Stage 4 states, "Individuals leaving...without permission may be subject to consequences up to and including removal." In addition, "violations...will result in, for clubs, significant penalties, potentially including fines and/or loss of draft choices." (Friedman)
- All players will undergo “a Pre-Participation Medical Examination.” If the doctor administring the exam and the team’s infectious disease expert determine a player is unfit to return to play due to the “substantial risk of developing a serious illness” from COVID-19, that player may seek a second opinion (Friedman)
- If a player tests positive for COVID-19 or develops symptoms in either Phase 3 and 4, teams are not permitted to share that information with the media or public absent prior approval from the NHL (in consultation with the NHLPA). (Johnston)
- NHL coaches won't be required to wear face coverings on the bench. (Johnston)
- NHL teams will have no dress code in effect during Phase 4. (Johnston)
- Every NHL team is required to bring at least one content creator/social media employee with them inside the bubble during Phase 4 (Johnston)
- Between periods during games, bench area including flooring, bench surface, top of dasher board, water bottle area and glass will be disinfected. On NHL benches, vertical dividers will be installed in the water bottle holders so each players' bottle is separate and upright. (Seravalli)
- The number of people scheduled to be tested daily in #NHL bubble is incredible. List includes: any player/coach/staff member, officials, ice crew, security, hotel bartenders, food service staff, arena food and beverage, hotel housekeeping, hotel kitchen staff, transportation. (Seravalli)
- Players who are authorized to leave the bubble (for medical reasons or extenuating personal circumstances) can return. They will be forced to quarantine on return pending four negative tests over a four-day period - or longer depending on location or circumstances outside.
- Phase 4 protocol says players’ families will be allowed to join for Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final in Edmonton and will be allowed to share hotel rooms. That means players advancing will go a minimum of five weeks away from their families. (Seravalli)
- The 87 pages are guidelines that the teams, and all support staff, have to follow from the time training camp opens until the Stanley Cup is presented (John Shannon)

In May, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a framework for what return to play would look like and the two sides have been negotiating finer details ever since. Toronto and Edmonton look like the Hub cities, barring some crazy last minute change. We can discuss whether we agree if the NHL should be returning. But a few things are impressive.

First, the level of camaraderie between the NHL and NHLPA in both the RTP and CBA. The broad based players population might only approve with a slight margin, but the two sides have shown more cooperation than we have seen in years. Second, and even more impressive, is the depth and breadth of the RTP. Some of the rules may seem silly and overreaching, but the league is doing its best to protect the players and create a fence around the bubble to prevent any potential issue.  One more interesting item is "Media who attend the Phase 4 games in person will have no greater access to Players and Club personnel than media who remain in Club’s home markets and connect to NHL virtual interviews and press conferences." That means zoom calls as opposed to live interviews, which could be a wave of the future and a major change from the past.

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