Late yesterday, news broke on key Return to Play protocols that the players and owners will be voting on soon. Initially it was being reported that players opting-out must notify their respective teams by Tuesday at 5PM. That was later clarified by Bob McKenzie to be three days after the plan is ratified.
Key Points on NHL Return to Play Protocols
- Coaches are not required to wear masks behind the bench
- All players will be subject to a pre-participation exam
- If the team doctors determine the player is at risk of serious illness due to COVID-19, that player will be held out of both Phase 3 & 4
- Players can seek second opinions
- Players can leave the “bubble” with permission
- Upon return those players will be forced to quarantine
- They can return to play after 4 straight negative tests over 4 days
- Players who leave the “bubble” without permission may be removed from the tournament and the team could face additional penalties
NHL Releases new COVID-19 test results
Today, the NHL released its weekly COVID-19 testing results and found an additional 8 cases. Last week it was 15 with 12 more cases identified outside of the Phase 2 protocols. That is now a total of 35 positive tests in the league out of 396 players tested.
Will any NHL players opt out?
The big question everyone is asking is if any NHL players will opt out? Not too long ago, Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers issued a statement expressing his concerns. The Blueshirts leading scorer said, “I have concerns not only about the health of players and their families but also about the longterm prosperity of the NHL.”
Another star who opened up was Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. “It’s a very unusual situation. I want the opportunity to be able to play for a Stanley Cup, but I want to be able to continue living life normally,” Price said.
While a majority of players have reported from all over the world to their respective cities in preparation for Phase 3, not all have. Ryan Strome for example of the Rangers who just had a baby has yet to report, but is expected.
So will players opt out? It is likely you may have a few but it looks like a majority are here and ready to play. We’ll get all our answer this week three days after the deal is ratified.