In preparation for the upcoming NHL season, the league announced offseason training protocols on Thursday, which will go into effect at the end of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. While not everything is set in stone for the 2020-21 season, these guidelines are meant to at least create a standard to prevent the spread of coronavirus during workouts and unofficial training sessions.
The standout announcements are that clubs will be required to open their training facilities within a week of a group of at least five players asking to use them. Players will get to use the facilities of the team they play for as early as Oct. 15, with certain regulations in place — no more than 12 people (players only) can be training on the ice at the same time, and no more than six people can be in a weight room at one time, for example. Players and staff heading to and from these facilities are discouraged from carpooling or taking public transportation.
Everything else is pretty boilerplate considering what the players who were in one of the Canadian postseason bubbles had to go through. There will be daily tests, temperature checks and, if a player has had COVID-19, they will undergo cardiac screenings. Only players and club staff will be allowed to be in the facilities, though people like club hockey operations personnel and business staff can observe from a distance (i.e. no player contact). Media, player agents, player performance personnel and family members are not allowed.
This appears to be as far as the league has officially planned for the upcoming season. While the start date for the 2020-21 season was expected to be Dec. 1, per the league’s Return to Play plan released in July, Commissioner Gary Bettman said during his Stanley Cup Final ‘State of the League’ press conference that it could be pushed back to January.