While we’ve known the teams set to battle for the Stanley Cup in a 24-team tournament for quite some time now, the when and where was still up in the air. On Sunday, the NHL and NHLPA reportedly finalized protocols for the season to resume in both Toronto and Edmonton with games set to begin on August 1.
According to ESPN, the NHL is targeting a July 13 start date for training camps with teams set to travel to the hub cities on either July 25 or July 26 prior to games beginning on August 1. The Eastern Conference playoffs will be held in Toronto while the Western Conference playoffs and Stanley Cup Final will be played in Edmonton.
As for the protocols, players can elect to opt-out of playing in the postseason tournament and they do not have to give a reason why they’ve elected to do so. The report also states that family members won’t be allowed to join players until the conference finals.
Social distancing and face coverings were also a main point in the agreed-upon protocols. Players and staff are expected to social distance from one another at all times throughout the tournament including while on planes, buses, in restaurants, and any other situations. Face coverings are to be worn at all times in the ‘secure zone’ but don’t have to be worn while exercising.
There seem to be strict penalties in place if teams and players don’t comply, or at the very least there are severe warnings in place to help enforce these health and safety rules. “Significant financial penalties and potential loss of draft picks” are on the table for teams that do not oblige to the new rules.