The National Hockey League’s (NHL) plans to restart its season has developed further after the organisation issued a memorandum setting out a long and stringent set of criteria that must be fulfilled by teams as they exit self-quarantine (Phase 1) to resume training activities.
NHL’s ‘Phase 2’ is expected to be implemented in early June, however, a precise date has yet to be revealed. Moreover, the league has not stated how long the NHL’s new steps will last.
An NHL spokesperson explained:“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.
“As we have stated repeatedly, the health of the players and club personnel is our top priority, and that will dictate how Phase 2, and any progression thereafter, may evolve.
“We again emphasise that player participation in Phase 2 is strictly voluntary. In addition, clubs are not permitted to require players to return to the club’s home city so they can complete a quarantine requirement in time to participate in Phase 2.”
In Phase 2, clubs will be allowed to reopen each of their training facilities in the club’s home city, to permit gatherings of small groups of players (maximum of six players at any one time, plus a limited number of club staff) and to engage in individualised training activities on a voluntary basis.
Additionally, clubs will be required to establish a process to record symptoms and conduct temperature checks on a daily basis, while all players must undergo a pre-participation medical evaluation (PPME) and Exhibit 25A clearance prior to participating in any Phase 2 activities.
In terms of permitted activities, the NHL stipulated “player-only” non-contact skates. No coaches, skating coaches, other club employees or club contracted representatives may participate in any on-ice sessions.
The release of the protocol follows recent news that the NHL is looking at around nine different places that could accommodate around 12 teams per location as it examines possible options for resuming the season.
However, Commissioner Gary Bettman remains unsure as to when the season resume date will officially be announced.
He said: “We have been working very hard since we took the pause on March 12 to make sure that whatever the timing is, whatever the sequencing is, whatever physical ability we have in terms of locations to play, that we’re in a position to execute any or all of those options. There is still a great deal of uncertainty.”
Despite the NHL’s willingness to restart its campaign as soon as possible, the organisation has assured everybody that ‘the health of the players and club personnel is our top priority’.