The NHL released an extensive, 21 page “Phase 2” memo that outlines their return to play setup and the precautions designed to keep players and personnel safe, and The ‘Rona™ at bay while play resumes.
Like many of you, I don’t have much else to do in the wake of the ‘Rona, so I went through the whole thing and picked out the most pertinent information so you don’t have to sit through about 40 minutes of PR-speak.
The important stuff:
- Early June is the target date for “Phase 2” implementation: Followed by “Phase 3” being training camp, and “Phase 4” being the full-return to play.
- Players abroad are covered, but once you’re here, don’t be dumb: Mandatory 14 day quarantine for players travelling in from abroad or using public transport to get to their team’s facilities. Players (including AHLers) will be compensated with hotel accommodations if they don’t live in their team’s city and be reimbursed for the cost of travel (AHLers for free, NHLers up to $1400). All players encouraged to follow local ordinances. Carpooling to-and-from anywhere is verboten.
- Common Sense Hygiene now enforced: No sharing toiletries, towels, no sharing flip-flops, don’t share meals or water bottles, wash your damn hands, use hand sanitizer, avoid showering at the facility if you can help it, six feet apart at all times in the locker room. All surfaces cleaned in-between periods and after use in training.
- Testing Testing Testing: Starts with a Pre-participation medical exam. Testing begins 48 hours before any training can take place, and the player can’t use any training facilities until he gets the all-clear from the lab. This is enhanced by daily temperature checks, which are done before or after they enter a team facility. Testing will also be done to personnel not explicitly allowed under the Phase 2 guidelines (more on that below). Will obviously be trying to not steal from essential workers and the like’s uses but will be using private lab COVID-19 testing unless a club asks for an FDA approved method. Anyone who tests positive are immediately sent to quarantine and contact tracing is used to help figure out who else is at risk, and further testing will ensue.
- Hygiene Officer: Each club must now have a dedicated Facility Hygiene Officer who oversees the disinfecting, cleaning, and player compliance of Phase 2. Needs to be a medical professional, obviously. They also get to set who has “player access” and “Non-Player access” privileges by handing out color coded badges to appropriate parties (if you’re confused, it basically extends out to about the training staff and other players as “player access”, all else are considered “non-player access”.)
- To Every man a Water Bottle: All water bottles are now labelled with a player’s name and that player can only use that water bottle. Also, no special gatorade bottles in the penalty box, just a bunch of aquafina bottles they have to go recycle afterwards.
- Six-Man Squads: Players are to be sectioned into groups of six at a time to use on-ice and training facilities. If the player’s team is in a hotspot city, this number could shrink.
- Self-Governed Practices: Players time to use facilities are on strict schedules, with goalies allowed additional time. On-Ice Practices are non-contact and do not involve coaches of any kind, they are only allowed to observe from a safe distances. Captain’s Practices and Player scheduled Practices are Verboten.
- Social Distanced Training: The usual when it comes to this: 6 feet apart at all times, and only one designated training location. Weight Training will only be done if it doesn’t need a spotter, otherwise resistance training and endurance training is fine. Rehab training is also fine so long as your fitness coaches say you still need it.
- Training Squads: One athletic trainer, one Strength and Conditioning trainer, single equipment manager, max two dressing room attendants, one physician, one goalie coach. Teams have been encouraged to hire more people at these positions to be set to individual squads of six players so they can limit cross-contamination.
- Mask Etiquette: Masks required for any time you’re not on the ice or in the gym or if you cannot maintain social distancing. Non-players always have to have masks, and trainers have to have gloves on in addition to masks.
- Vittu teille, Suomalaiset!: Saunas/Hot Tubs are verboten. Nordic countries to invade on friday.
There’s more detailed instruction designed primarily for general managers and the like, but otherwise I think “Phase 2” seems to be pretty on the ball. We’ll have to see, but it’s already a good sign to have “Phase 2” even be an option at this point. We’ll be back to hockey before we know it!