The lights dim, the table suddenly shifts, and a woman screams! The medium, a Mr Bob McKenzie, is the only spiritualist in the land who doesn’t need to resort to trickery; his connection beyond the veil is genuine. Some others let the lesser spirits, known as agents, speak with their voice in an eerie and alarming spectacle fit only for sideshows. But McKenzie contacts the higher spirits.
The kinds of higher spirits that get you a 40 page PDF before everyone else has it:
NHL and NHLPA have finalized tentative agreement on RTP Phase 3/4 protocols but are continuing to work on finalizing the details of the CBA MOU.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 5, 2020
The Phase 3/4 RTP protocol is a 40-page document. Some of the details are as follows: A limit of 30 skaters in Phase 3 with an unlimited number of goalies; Only players eligible to play 2019-20 resumption permitted to skate in Phase 3;— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 6, 2020
All of this has to be voted on by both the NHLPA and the Board of Governors, together in a package with the CBA MOU when it’s all ready to go, but the timing here says that’s going to be soon. It needs to be tomorrow to really fit this in.
Our policy up to now has been: No news until it’s real news, but this could get lost in the shuffle of the CBA details, so for now, let’s all assume McKenzie. and whoever else chimes in around the table to speak for the NHL, is 100% correct, and anything that’s subsequently revealed to be incomplete or inaccurate will be updated later.
The most important part of the Phase 3 rules also sets the timing:
Any player may opt out of Phase 3 and Phase 4 without penalty of any kind, but must make that decision and notify his club in writing by no later than 5 p.m. ET on July 7; Each of the 24 NHL clubs in Phase 3/4 must submit list of participating players by no later than July 9.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 6, 2020
Even if a player vote begins tomorrow, it’s entirely possible this won’t be voted on before that deadline of July 7, which is Tuesday, at 5 p.m. The teams will then have two days to submit their player lists. Those feel like the dates from when the plan was for training camp to start on July 10, not the current assumed July 13.
BTW, the dates listed here are subject to change for obvious reasons (ratification etc) but these are the dates currently outlined in the document that has been sent to players tonight.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 6, 2020
Players can be opted out if they break the rules. Maybe we should call this the party in St. Louis rule:
Return to Play Stage 4 states, "Individuals leaving...without permission may be subject to consequences up to and including removal." In addition, "violations...will result in, for clubs, significant penalties, potentially including fines and/or loss of draft choices."— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 6, 2020
McKenzie notes that the protocols include a set of travel and quarantine (used interchangeably with self-isolation) requirements that vary depending on the context, so we’ll need to wait for the full document to know how an American in USA with a positive COVID-19 test coming to Canada has to behave.
Testing frequency will increase from the Phase 2 twice a week program:
There is obviously a large section on testing, that includes all players and club personnel being tested 48 hours prior to any individual returning to club training facilities and on an every other day basis after that, with all results being available with 24 hours.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 6, 2020
Consideration for players with particular risk factors is built in:
Here’s an interesting clause: “Players who, after consultation with Club doctor who conducted PPME, and the Club’s infectious disease expert, are determined to be at substantial risk of developing a serious illness as a result of exposure to the novel coronavirus...— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 6, 2020
...shall be deemed to be unfit to play and shall not be permitted to participate in either Phase 3 or Phase 4. A player may initiate a second opinion concerning his fitness to play status pursuant to Paragraph 5 of the Standard Player Contract.”— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 6, 2020
Yet another voice is heard around the table with news on when the hub will host families:
#NHL Phase 4 protocol says players’ families will be allowed to join for Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final in Edmonton and will be allowed to share hotel rooms.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 6, 2020
That means players advancing will go a minimum of five weeks away from their families.
We can consider this the informal, formal announcement of Toronto and Edmonton as the two hub cities, and this lets a small cat out of the bag as well. There was an early leaked report that the Stanley Cup Final would be in Edmonton, and then that was formally reported to be not yet certain. Now we seem to be back to the Cup awarded under the majestic rocky mountain skyline.
It’s the obvious choice to bring the @NHL to #Edmonton.— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) June 22, 2020
We look forward to welcoming the league and players here to Alberta to take in the beautiful province we have to offer. pic.twitter.com/kp0iN86vCP
It’s an open question if the economic impact to a hub location is going to be substantial enough to have warranted this effort on the part of cities looking to be hosts. Whatever the individual motivations of politicians and government officials, the political ramifications of the NHL going from a spot on the conference call with the President of the United States in April to crossing the border entirely to finish the season in July could be significant. It is at least a potent symbol of the state of affairs today.
Now back to the seance...
The NHL is warning teams they are to follow the rules as well:
#NHL policy says team failure to comply with the protocols in place in the bubble “could lead to significant financial penalties, and potentially the loss of draft picks.”— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 6, 2020
be removed from training, practice or play, and his condition shall be treated as a hockey related injury for all purposes under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, unless it is established, based on the facts at issue, that the Player contracted COVID-19...(2/3)— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 6, 2020
(or the resulting or related illness) outside the course of his employment as a hockey player.” (3/3)— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 6, 2020
Now we have a conflict in reporting:
Another clause: “Absent prior approval by the League (who shall consult with the NHLPA), there shall be no disclosure by the Club to the media or to the public of information relating to a positive test result or to a person developing COVID-19 symptoms during Phase 3.”— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 6, 2020
If a player tests positive for COVID-19 or develops symptoms in either Phase 3 and 4, teams are not permitted to share that information with the media or public absent prior approval from the NHL (in consultation with the NHLPA).— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 6, 2020
So is it just in Phase 3, the NHL is going to try to keep the obvious a secret, or will they try that during play as well? This might need the real document to sort out.
There are a lot more rules about testing, illness, family or other contacts becoming ill, and that’s all largely what you’d expect from something like this. But if you needed a reminder that the NHL is the entertainment business:
Every NHL team is required to bring at least one content creator/social media employee with them inside the bubble during Phase 4.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 6, 2020
On the one hand, isn’t running a team’s social media already a thankless task? On the other hand, there won’t be roving media either.
And now, the seance is breaking up and everyone is talking at once, and it’s getting hard to tell what refers to Phase 3 or Phase 4. But the “bubble” likely means all activities at the hub city. But without knowing exactly what the bubble rules are, this is hard to figure out what “leave” means. Leave the hotel? Leave the city? Leave the country?
#NHL players who are authorized to leave the bubble (for medical reasons or extenuating personal circumstances) can return. They will be forced to quarantine on return pending four negative tests over a four-day period - or longer depending on location or circumstances outside.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 6, 2020
The final word goes the Elliotte Friedman, who tweeted out the big one: What if it all goes wrong?
At any time either before the commencement of, or during, Phase 3, either the NHL or the NHLPA believes that conditions, in which the commencement or continuation of Phase 3 would likely create a material risk to— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 6, 2020
Player health and safety and/or jeopardize...(2/x)
of its belief, following which the parties shall jointly consult with the NHL Chief Medical Officer, the NHLPA Medical Consultant, participating Players, General Managers, and such infectious diseases experts as they may consider advisable. Thereafter the Commissioner...(4/x)— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 6, 2020
to postpone, delay, move, or cancel Phase 3, shall be whether the commencement or continuation of Phase 3 would likely create a material risk to Player health and safety and/or jeopardize the integrity of the competition anticipated in Phase 4...(6/x)— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 6, 2020
Similar wording exists for Phase 4— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 6, 2020
That seems like enough from beyond the veil. When the full document is available, we’ll provide a summary and links. For now, be careful which tweets you take seriously:
During Phase 4 of the NHL's Return to Play plan, each NHL team must bring a knight, a monk, a geomancer, and a jester, in order to form a balanced adventuring party as required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement https://t.co/J5qHtWt8Kk— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) July 6, 2020