July 06-- DALLAS-Hockey will return in less than four weeks.
The NHL and the NHLPA announced on Monday afternoon that the league's qualifying round would begin Aug. 1. Additionally, training camp will start July 13 (previously scheduled to start Friday) and teams will travel to hub cities on July 26.
The league has not officially announced hub cities, but multiple reports have said that the Western Conference will be based in Edmonton and the Eastern Conference will be based in Toronto.
For the Stars, that means a round-robin with St. Louis, Vegas and Colorado to determine Western Conference seeding will happen in less than a month. By finishing fourth (in points percentage) in the West during the regular season, the Stars qualified for the postseason, where they will face a winner of one of the four best-of-five qualifying rounds.
The NHL and NHLPA also released the protocols for training camp and the postseason in two separate documents totaling 48 pages. They are summarized below.
TRAINING CAMP AT HOME CITIES
-Teams will be allowed to have 30 skaters and unlimited goalies during training camp, and teams must submit rosters to the league by Thursday. Stars general manager Jim Nill said via text Monday afternoon that all Stars players participating in training camp are in Dallas.
-Players have 72 hours from the ratification of the agreement to notify their teams that they will not play. Players who choose to opt out of the return to play will not face any discipline. That includes Stars defenseman Roman Polak, who expressed concern about returning to play this summer.
-Social distancing must be practiced through the facility except in the weight room, training room and dressing rooms, or during medical encounters. Players and coaches should "refrain from contact with others on the ice unless it is an essential part of the practice or drill."
Stars coach Rick Bowness wasn't sure how to plan his drills for training camp given potential social distancing requirements, but he said the team would focus on improving offensively.
-Players, staff and others that might come in contact with players (ice and building maintenance, and security) must be tested with 48 hours of entering the team's facility. They will be tested every other day, with results available in 24 hours. If results are not available within 24 hours, that person will not be allowed inside the facility until a negative result.
Players and staff will self-report symptoms on an app less than two hours before entering the facility. When they arrive at the facility, they will be temperature checked and symptom checked again.
-Teams are not permitted to disclose to the media any positive tests without approval from the NHL, which will consult with the NHLPA. The league announced Monday morning that 23 players (out of 396) had tested positive during voluntary small-group workouts.
-Players must wear masks except when exercising or on the ice.
-Players are not allowed to skate or work out at any other facilities during Phase 3. Players are not allowed to car pool with each other and steam rooms and hot tubs at the facility will be closed. Teams may not conduct fitness tests during training camp.
-Reporters will be allowed at training camp, but interviews will be conducted via Zoom or another video conferencing platform. Reporters will enter a separate entrance from the players, and will be required to social distance from each other.
QUALIFYING ROUND AND PLAYOFFS AT THE HUB CITIES
-Teams are allowed to bring 52 people to the hub city, including a 31-player maximum roster. The group must also include at least three coaches, two athletic trainers, one team doctor, one equipment manager, one massage therapist, one ART therapist/chiropractor, one content creator, one security representative and one club compliance officer.
-Asymptomatic players that test positive must remain in isolation until testing negative in two straight days, or until 10 days have passed since the first positive test. Symptomatic players that test positive will remain isolated until two positive tests after resolution of their fever, or three days after symptoms have stopped given that the player has been in isolation for 10 days since symptoms started.
-Players are not allowed to leave the "secure zone" (hotel, restaurants, arena and practice facilities) unless retrieving medical supplies, being examined by their doctor of choice, or other events like the birth of a child, a wedding or illness/death in the family. Upon return, they must test negative on four straight days.
-Should individuals leave the secure zone without permission, teams may face "significant penalties, potentially including fines and/or loss of draft choices."
-NHL commissioner Gary Bettman can choose to postpone, delay, move, or cancel any games based on "whether the commencement or continuation of the Game(s) would likely create a material risk to Player health and safety and/or jeopardize the integrity of the competition." That would include an uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19.
-Each person will have their own hotel room (typically players on entry-level contracts must share rooms). Players' families will be allowed to stay with them at the hotel during the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final.
Access to players' families was an issue brought up to Stars NHLPA representative Jason Dickinson by his teammates: "It's crazy to think you have to spend all this time away from them right now, but at the end of the day, it's a few months at most. I don't think it's going to be a deal breaker, necessarily, but we also want to be able to spend some time (with them)."
-People will be required to wear masks outside of their hotel rooms except players while exercising or on the ice, coaches behind the bench, officials on the ice or broadcasters on the air.
-Teams will provide "grocery delivery and errand delivery" services to players' families when the players are away from home at the hub city.
-Reporters will be allowed at the games, but will not be given greater access that reporters not in the hub cities. All interviews will be conducted virtually.
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